WLCA Asia-Pacific: Spring aims for 100 aircraft, readies Japan launch

Mainland China’s first low-fare airline, Spring Airlines, aims to operate 100 aircraft by 2018 as it faces new competition in its local market.

The Shanghai-based Airbus A320 operator was the only Chinese carrier to receive approval for fleet expansion in 2014 from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), with an order for more A320s expected in the near term.

A number of new low-fare carriers are expected to enter this sector in China this year following government moves to encourage growth of the market. These include Beijing-based China United Airlines, which is a China Eastern subsidiary; Chongqing-based West Air, owned by Hainan Airlines parent HNA Group; as well as Jetstar Hong Kong. “This year is a very exciting one for LCCs in China,” Zhang Xiuzhi, Spring’s chief executive officer told delegates at the World Low Cost Airlines Asia-Pacific conference in Singapore on 19 February.

New routes this year will include flights to Osaka, Singapore, Chiang Mai and Da Nang, with daily flights to Osaka coming online at the end of March.

Meanwhile, Spring’s first regional subsidiary, Spring Airlines Japan is looking at an April launch from Narita Airport, Wei Wang, chairman of the board told LARA. The subsidiary will initially launch with three routes – Hiroshima, Saga and Fukuoka – using an initial three Boeing 737-800s, with plans to grow to 20 aircraft within five years.

The subsidiary plans to add international services this year – “the faster the better” – to points in Taiwan, mainland China and Hong Kong, Wei added.

Emma Kelly, Asia-Pacific correspondent, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net

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