Chinese regulatory authorities have given initial approval for more privately owned passenger airlines to be established as the market continues to open up to new players. The latest to have secured initial Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) approval to establish themselves are East Star Airlines and Eastern Express.

East Star’s main backer has been identified as China East Star Group, which has interests in the tourism and property sectors. The new airline will be established in the central Hubei province city of Wuhan, where China East Star Group is based, and it aims to launch services by the end of this year using Airbus A320s or Boeing 737s.

The main backer of Eastern Express has been identified as Junyao Group, which will have a controlling stake of more than 50%. The remaining shares will be held by Three Gorges Aviation and Tourism Investment. Junyao Group already has an 18% stake in China Eastern Wuhan Airlines. The new carrier is to be based in Shanghai, although a launch date has yet to be revealed.

The would-be backers of the airlines have joined a growing list of companies to secure initial CAAC approval to start up following a government decision to ease restrictions on new carriers. Others include privately owned Shanghai-based Air Spring, Tianjin-based Okay Airways and Chengdu-based United Eagle Airlines.

Okay launched domestic charter services in March with 737-900s while Air Spring and United Eagle have said they hope to launch operations shortly, both with A320s.

Source: Airline Business