US Travelers May Soon Have More Nonstop Options to China

May 14, 2018

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The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced on Monday that it’s going to loosen restrictions on its “one route, one airline” policy for Chinese airlines.

The policy, which was introduced in 2009, restricts competition between Chinese carriers on long-haul international routes. Effectively, the rule exists to limit competition between state-owned carriers in that only one can operate on a designated long-haul international route. For example, the only Chinese airline permitted to operate between Shanghai (PVG) and Los Angeles (LAX) is China Eastern. Meanwhile, American, United and Delta all fly nonstop on the same route.

But with Monday’s announcement that the CAAC is revising the rules, it will be easier for state-owned Chinese airlines to compete with one another. As of October 1, 2018, international routes will be divided into two categories.

The first includes unrestricted routes to destinations in countries with at least a partial open skies agreement with China, for example the US, Australia and Thailand.

In the second category will be long-haul destinations that are subject to certain restrictions. Reuters reports that China defines a long-haul route as one that’s more than 2,800 miles one-way.

Overall, the easing of the “one route, one airline” policy should be a positive for the consumer. With increased competition on routes that have previously been dominated by a single Chinese carrier, passengers should have more options to get between the US and China.

In addition, Beijing’s second airport, Daxing, is scheduled to open in 2019. With the loosening of these restrictions, Chinese airlines are in a better place to compete with one another with more slots available in the country’s capital.

With the new rules not set to take effect until October 1, it’s yet to be told just how much will be changing and for which airline(s). For Chinese carriers that have long had their growth stunted by access, this could mean more choices for more passengers to get to different parts of the country.

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