China Scaling Back Their “One Route, One Airline” Rule

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Since 2009, China has had a “one route, one airline” policy. Under this rule, only one Chinese airline can operate each longhaul route. There are a few markets where there are exceptions (like Shanghai to Frankfurt), but in a vast majority of longhaul markets that policy exists. This is one of the reasons we’re seeing so much expansion between the US and smaller (as a relative matter) cities in China.

For example, even though Hainan is based in Beijing, a couple of years back they started flights between Los Angeles and Changsha. Why? Because Air China already flies between Los Angeles and Beijing. This is true in so many markets, and it’s why there are now a dozen nonstop destinations in mainland China from LAX, for example.