Domestic flights operated by government-owned Chinese carriers are likely to get more expensive following the decision by the country’s civil aviation authority to lift the cap on airfares.

Airlines will now be able to increase prices on some 300 domestic routes by up to 10 per cent per year, provided at least five carriers operate flights on a given route, CNN Money reports.

China’s aviation sector has been on a rapid increase over the past few years and is expected to continue growing. According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the number of annual travellers is expected to grow by an estimated 817 million over the next five years, bringing the total to about 1.3 billion annual passengers by 2020.

The major driver comes from domestic travel – of the 3,326 routes operated in China in 2015, for example, 2,666 were internal.

International travel is on the rise as well, however, and last month China and the UK signed a new deal increasing the number of weekly flights permitted between the two countries by 50 per cent, from 100 to 150.

Business Traveller took an in-depth look into the growing Chinese aviation sector in its March 2017 feature, “Chinese aviation: Ascent of the dragon”.

Chinese aviation: Ascent of the dragon

The new pricing regulations follow other policy relaxations introduced by the country’s aviation authority recently, such as those that govern in-flight mobile device usage, opening the way for airlines to set their own policies.