China could soon be easing a decade-long policy that could open up for more competition between Chinese carriers on international long-haul routes.

Under the current "one route, one Chinese carrier" policy, most long-haul markets could only be operated by one Chinese airline. Since its implementation in 2009, the intention was to prevent the country's state-backed carriers from competing against each other on routes deemed "difficult to profit from."

The problems that have emerged can be attributed due China's rapidly growing aviation industry. There are several state airlines including Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern based in different cities (Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou). The Chinese aviation industry has also seen privately-run newcomers open up competition from the likes of Hainan Airlines and budget carrier Spring Airlines. The new private carriers also have their own ambitions, which do include international flights from China.

Though it has opened up cities in China most people are not familiar with such as Xi'an to Shenzhen with international routes, it has prevented local carriers from operating international routes from Beijing or Shanghai. Currently Air China operates most international flights from Beijing, while other carriers such as China Southern or Hainan Airlines can't also open flights while foreign carriers could enter.

In a statement from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the rules could be eased with new measures in October 1 of this year.

The CAAC said it would divide long haul international routes longer than 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles each way) into two categories based on how open China's air transport agreement was with the destination country. Destinations in countries with at least a partial open skies agreement with China, such as Australia, Thailand and the United States will see unrestricted routes, while the rest will see further restrictions.


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