China’s budget carrier to expand network in Cambodia and other Belt and Road Initiative regions

Spring Airlines' Airhbus aircraft. Facebook
Spring Airlines' Airhbus aircraft. Facebook

China’s budget carrier to expand network in Cambodia and other Belt and Road Initiative regions

by Zhu Wenqian

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) - Spring Airlines, China’s first and largest budget carrier, plans to further consolidate and expand its flight network in the countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, including Cambodia, as it is seeing increasing traveling demand to those destinations.

“We plan to launch more flights connecting China and Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines,” said Wang Yi, chairman of Spring Airlines.

As one of the most internationalized airlines in China, Spring now has about 40 per cent of its capacity serving international flights. With nearly 60 flights between China and Thailand, it became the carrier with the most flights connecting the two countries, and more such flights are in the pipeline.

“About 90 per cent of the traveling demand of Chinese visitors comes from destinations that are accessible via a three or four-hour flight. Those places are mostly Northeast Asian countries and Southeast Asian countries,” he said.

Starting from 2015, Spring has launched a number of flights from Chinese cities to destinations related to the Belt and Road markets. Those routes include flights from Xi’an, Shaanxi province, to Osaka in Japan; from Chengdu, Sichuan province, and Shenzhen, Guangdong province, to Siem Reap in Cambodia; and from Guangzhou in Guangdong to Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia.

“Budget carriers are still in their initial development stages in China, and they only account for 8 per cent of all airlines here. We are seeing a significant growth potential of the budget airlines market,” Wang said.

“The sales revenue of Spring has grown by about 20 per cent annually in recent years, which is much faster than a lot of traditional airlines.”

Currently, Spring’s fleet comprises 77 Airbus A320 and six Boeing B737 aircraft. The limited type of aircraft and economy class setup have enabled the airline to reduce training and maintenance costs.

Wang is also a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top advisory body. Wang made a proposal during the ongoing CPPCC annual session, suggesting the government and airlines strengthen the management of airspace resources.

Last year, domestic airlines transported 552 million people, and the average number of flights daily reached 14,400. In 2006, the average number of flights daily was 4,600, and it has been growing at 10.9 per cent annually.

Yet, the annual growth rate of airspace resources in China was only about 2 per cent, and this lack of adaptability had an impact on the safety, services and operational efficiencies of the civil aviation market.

Wang suggested that the related agencies should do more research into the problems, and promote more detailed and refined management methods of airspace resources. Besides, the management of technical equipment could be upgraded.

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