Hong Kong Dragon Airlines will increase flights to three cities in the Yangtze River delta this summer to capitalise on an easing of restrictions for mainland passengers travelling to Hong Kong. From August, the China-focused carrier would increase flights to Huangzhou, Nanjing and Ningbo after taking delivery of two Airbus A320 mid-range aircraft, Dragonair chief executive Stanley Hui Hon-chung said yesterday. 'We understand Beijing will liberalise travel between [Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces] and Hong Kong,' he said. 'We have seen substantial growth on the mainland. But the restrictions have not allowed passenger growth to match the levels we've seen in liberalised areas such as Shanghai and Beijing.' Mr Hui said the mainland's contribution to Dragonair's passenger numbers rose last year to 20 per cent of the three million passengers it carried, from about 11 per cent three years ago. Gao Siren, director of the central government's Hong Kong liaison office, earlier this month said travel restrictions would be eased on mainland travellers from up to nine cities outside Guangdong. Dragonair's announcement yesterday would appear to indicate the timing of that move had been set for the third quarter. The carrier this week increased to twice daily its frequencies to Huangzhou. From September 1, it will boost the number of times it serves the Ningbo market to six a week, from four, and from July 15, it will increase its daily service to Nanjing to about 11 times a week. It also has plans to launch a freighter service to Nanjing to supplement all-cargo flights to Shanghai. On Friday, Dragonair will begin seven-times weekly flights to Tokyo, its 30th destination, challenging Cathay Pacific, American and Japanese carriers for a market serving 1.9 million passengers a year on the Hong Kong-Tokyo route.