Spring Airlines opens its first route to Taiwan
Updated: 2013-10-09 07:45
By Wang Ying in Shanghai (China Daily)
Spring Airlines Co Ltd, the nation's only low cost carrier, will launch direct flights from Shanghai to Kaohsiung on Oct 27, becoming the first privately owned carrier from the Chinese mainland to run direct flights across the Taiwan Straits.
From Oct 27, the Shanghai-based airline will start thrice-weekly flights on the route, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, taking about two hours and 10 minutes.
Kaohsiung is Taiwan's second-largest city and an industrial hub located in the southwest part of the island. Shanghai, which boasts premium infrastructure, business environment and bright prospects for economic development, has attracted many Taiwan people to move there.
A census conducted in November 2010 showed that about 700,000 people from Taiwan settled in Shanghai.
From Oct 27, the Shanghai-based Spring Airlines will start thrice-weekly flights on the route, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, taking about two hours and 10 minutes. Provided to China Daily
Increasing interaction across the Taiwan Straits has created huge demand for direct flight services. The launch of Shanghai-Kaohsiung flights makes Spring Airlines the first budget airline to operate direct flights between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan since direct flights across the Taiwan Straits became regular in 2009.
Famous for its low-cost operation model, Spring Airlines is expected to offer tickets between the two cities at prices 30 percent to 40 percent lower than the market average. On its official website, the ticket price is as low as 430 yuan ($70).
According to Zhang Wu'an, a spokesman for Spring Airlines, there will be 10 special offers for each flight. These tickets will be available for smartphone users only after Saturday. "The lowest price will be just 199 yuan," said Zhang.
Wang Zhenghua, founder and chairman of Spring Airlines, has long wanted to open a route across the Taiwan Straits. The Shanghai-based carrier has applied to launch flights to Taiwan every year since 2007. Now his dream has finally become true.
"Ticket prices between Shanghai and Taipei are even more expensive than the combined tickets of traveling from Shanghai to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to Shanghai," Wang told China Daily during an earlier interview, expressing his aspiration to open direct flights across the Taiwan Straits.
"Because of high ticket prices and the short flight distance, flights across the Taiwan Straits are one of the most profitable routes for Chinese airlines," said Li Lei, an industrial analyst with Minzu Securities.
According to Li, the approximately 2-hour flight to Taiwan is charged equivalent to international flight ticket prices because foreign carriers are not eligible to operate flights across the Taiwan Straits.
Analysts said the global aviation industry is developing in two directions: One is developing large comprehensive airlines with global networks while the other is operating low-cost carriers.
As of the end of 2012, budget carriers in Europe and the United States dominated up to 80 percent of the market share of two- to three-hour flights. Moreover, traditional airlines such as British Airways are copying low cost airlines' business models in their short- to medium-distance routes, a journal run by the Civil Aviation Administration of China reported.
Although the aviation regulator has promised to further lower the threshold for carriers applying for new routes in the second half of the year, Li believes the dominance of the top three airlines won't be changed in the foreseeable future, but he stressed it's a good opportunity for Spring Airlines to open links to Taiwan cities.
(China Daily USA 10/09/2013 page15)