China has lifted flight restrictions on 49 of the 56 mainland cities with air links to Hong Kong. In addition, a new agreement signed with India will allow 40 flights weekly between Hong Kong and cities in that country, according to the Hong Kong Standard newspaper. Under a memorandum of understanding signed between the Transport and Housing Bureau and the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China on December 21, operation and capacity restrictions on 49 of the 56 routes will be lifted from the end of March.
The remaining 7 routes - Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Kunming, Dalian and Chengdu - will allow 3 airlines to operate passenger/all-cargo services and 2 airlines for all-cargo services only, also by the end of March 2008.
These will increase to 4 and 3 airlines respectively by 2009.
The bureau did not reveal how many new flights there will be under the new arrangement, but said the surge was welcomed by airlines and viewed as adding competitiveness to the industry.
Cathay Pacific and Dragonair dominate flights from Hong Kong to the mainland.
Cathay currently has 7 flights weekly to both Shanghai and Beijing and 2 to Xiamen. Dragonair, a Cathay subsidiary, flies to 21 mainland cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.