Business / Companies

Spring Airlines to expand foreign routes

By WANG YING in Shanghai ( Updated: 2014-03-05 19:35

Spring Airlines, China's first budget carrier, plans to speed up its overseas expansion by increasing the number of weekly international flights from 78 to 103 within the year, founder and chairman Wang Zhenghua said on Wednesday.

After the expansion, 30 percent of the Shanghai-based carrier's total operational flights will be international flights or flights to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, and increase from current 16 percent.

"The expansion of flights this year will be equivalent to that of the past three years," said Wang.

In March and April, four new destinations will be added: Osaka (Japan), Chiangmai (Thailand), Danang (Vietnam) and Singapore.

The new flights to Osaka will run from Shanghai, but Wang said that more to Osaka will start from three other Chinese cities by the end of June.

The rising demand from Chinese people wishing to travel abroad has provided an incentive for carriers to launch a wide range of international flights.

"Behind the expansion of flights is Spring Airlines' plan to go public," said Li Lei, an industrial analyst with Minzu Securities.

According to Li, the airline is still lining up to get approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission for an initial public offering on the Shanghai stock exchange. If successful, the company will become the only private airline listed on a bourse on the Chinese mainland.

Several years ago, the budget carrier unsuccessfully sought an IPO in the A-share market. In late 2006, Citigroup proposed Spring Airlines' listing, estimating its market capitalization at 8 billion yuan ($1.3 billion). However, the global economic meltdown in late 2008 and the ensuing capital market collapse halted the effort.


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