One-yuan air ticket to hit market

By Roy Wang & Li Qian (
Updated: 2006-12-01 16:49

Spring Airlines, the country's first discount airline company, offered its customers airline tickets for only one yuan (13 US cents), Xinhua reported Friday.

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 full price.

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.

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