China’s aviation regulator has lifted a six-year ban against creating independent airlines, a sign of liberalization in one of the nation’s most tightly regulated sectors.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China this month gave the green light to a Shandong-based conglomerate to set up Qingdao Airlines, which plans to operate from the northeastern port city. Two weeks earlier the regulator allowed Yunnan Jing Cheng Group to establish Ruili Airlines in western China, with plans to operate on domestic routes.

The decisions marked a change from the regulator’s practice in recent years.

Tags: china
Photo Credit: China Eastern and Shenzen Airlines land at Shenzen Airport. Swire / Flickr