Cathay Pacific is expected to launch flights to 15 mainland China destinations after winning approval from the country’s aviation regulator.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China gave Hong Kong’s flag carrier the green light to fly to cities including Chengdu, Nanjing, and Xiamen.

The routes were previously operated by regional subsidiary Cathay Dragon, which shut down last October amid the travel slowdown.

The 15 destinations represent nearly 70 per cent of Cathay Dragon’s original 22 routes to mainland China, according to a Chinese report in the Sing Tao Daily

Cathay Pacific is still awaiting approval for other previously-served destinations such as Changsha, Kunming, and Guilin.

The carrier has not announced a timeline for resumption, but plans to share its route allocation with low-cost subsidiary HK Express.

“We intend to seek regulatory approval for a majority of Cathay Dragon’s routes to be operated by Cathay Pacific or HK Express, a wholly owned subsidiary,” a Cathay Pacific spokesperson told Business Traveller

“We will continue to strengthen our network and maintain the international hub status of Hong Kong by harnessing Cathay Pacific’s strengths and unparalleled customer experience, while leveraging the potential of its low-cost carrier, HK Express.

The approval comes amid a report in January that startup carrier Greater Bay Airlines applied for operating rights to 104 destinations, including 48 cities in mainland China. 

Bill Wong, owner of Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines, has pledged to invest HK$2 billion ($258 million) in Greater Bay Airlines, betting it can capture market share from incumbents like Cathay Pacific as demand for air travel gradually recovers.