The move marks a reversal in government policy under which the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) controlled the process. Chinese airlines have long operated under rigid, centralized regulations.
According to an official at the CAAC, Liu Xialong, the move will allow airlines to better plan their expansion and manage their day-to-day operations.
Of the 49 airlines registered in China, about 35 operate under the control of private companies or provincial governments. Haikou-based Hainan Airlines ranks as the biggest of those airlines and fourth largest in terms of fleet size overall after Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines.
HNA Group and the Hainan provincial government owns Hainan Airlines.
Liu said the central government expects the number of private and provincially owned airlines to increase significantly before 2020 as more Chinese middle-class travel and more new airlines launch operations. The government receives an average of seven applications every year for new airlines.
“With the liberalization of air services, governments are making it easier for non-flag carriers to secure landing rights,” Liu said.
(William Dennis - AINOnline News)