Spring Airlines, the country's first discount airline company, offered its
customers airline tickets for only one yuan (13 US cents), Xinhua reported
The airline company's maiden flight from Guangzhou to Shanghai was on
Thursday, representing the completion of its 'golden triangle' flight layout
between Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, China's major regional flight centres.
With ticket prices significantly lower than state-owned airlines, Spring
Airlines has gotten the attention of travelers who don't normally fly.
Passengers on yesterday's flight paid as low as 299 yuan for a ticket, 30
percent of the normal price.
The company also announced a plan to sell ten percent of the tickets for each
flight from Shanghai to Jinan, east China's Shandong Province, for only one yuan
(excluding airport construction fees and fuel surcharges) from November 30 to
December 10. Customers can only order and pay for the tickets via the Internet.
With the cheap prices comes watered-down services. Yesterday's flight was a
180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft with only economy seats. Passengers were not
served free food or beverages and were not allowed to bring food or drink with
them. They were allowed 15 kilograms or less of uncharged luggage.The amount of
normal flights is 20 kilograms.
Compensation to passengers from the company due to flight delays will also be
smaller, according to Spring Airlines.
But passengers on the aircraft seemed to be indifferent to the new rules.
"It doesn't bother me whether the flight provides free food or not, as long
as the ticket is cheap. And it's not too expensive to buy some food on the
plane. It only cost twenty or thirty yuan for something," a traveler on the
flight surnamed Zhang told reporters.
The one-yuan-ticket plan has drawn controversy about whether the low price
violates the No.18 Act of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China,
which requires every airline to sell tickets at no less than 45 percent of the
Spring Airlines spokesman Zhang Lei said the one-yuan ticket was aimed at
promoting its new airliner and offsetting the lack of customers due to its
undesirable arrival in Shanghai at 00:50 am.
But some people reproached the company for promoting itself with the one-yuan
ticket during the airline industry's low season.
According to Spring Airlines, currently all their flights are sold out.
The self-titled 'grass roots' company said it has earned 20 million yuan
since its first flight took off in July 2005 thanks to the low ticket prices
that are popular with customers.
Civil aviation experts, however, were skeptical of Spring Airlines' success.
They say airlines usually only profit after three to seven years' of operation.
With petrol prices soaring world wide, imposing great pressure on the airline
industry, many airlines suffered heavy losses due to rising costs, while the
world's cheapest airline companies are profiting.