By Brooke Porter Katz
May 25, 2014

According to a report from CAPA-Centre for Aviation, 15 new airlines in China have launched or are scheduled to launch by the end of 2014—a 50% increase in the country’s passenger airlines. This sudden growth began late last year, when China began loosening restrictions on new LLCs and start-up companies. (Though according to the report, the reform initiatives “remain subject to interpretation and implementation.”)

Between late 2013 and now, three small-scale carriers have begun operating (Loong Airlines, Donghai Airlines, and Qingdao Airlines), with 12 more to hoping to hit the skies by the end of 2014. Despite the growth, the four current major players—the state-owned Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern, and privately held Hainan—will continue to dominate.

It remains to be seen how these smaller airlines will impact the market and whether or not they will all survive, but one thing is certain: the market-share leaders are paying attention. As the report puts it, “more important for the present is the impact these new airlines have merely by virtue of their existence.”

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Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.