China’s Low-Cost Spring Airlines

Spring Airlines is amazing. They started its first flight from Shanghai to Yantai on July 18, 2005, exactly one year ago. Within one year, they successfully broke even in Feb this year, and turned to be very profitable now. It is not easy for a new business, especially in the highly competitive airline industry.

It is one of the very few low-cost airlines in China.

It offers surprising price like 99 RMB, 199 RMB, to 399 RMB. It is not always that cheap. For example, I just queried price from Shanghai to Qingdao. It is 450 RMB – their lowest price was 199 RMB.

Spring is a small airline. They only operate 3 Airbus 320 aircraft, serving 12 flights from Shanghai to major travel cities. I will try it the next time I travel and write about it.

22 thoughts on “China’s Low-Cost Spring Airlines

  1. My main concern for any Chinese airliner is if it is safe. Do they adhere to the strict maintain rules compare to the ones in the States, do you know? How is their safety track?

  2. Hshar

    don’t worry about safety maintenance because that’s of no concern to this new low-cost airline. If one goes down, Spring Airline just writes it off and schedules the next flight as soon as they can find another plane to spring into action. It’s cheap and actually relatively efficient.

    oh yes,and Spring Airline’s pilots don’t have a lot of training but they know enough to be able to takeoff and generally navigate to where they want to go.

  3. I have the same opinion, safety is first important thing.

    How can those company keep the service at good level & quality?

  4. The spring airlines only has one type airplane,it is means that they can train the staff ,supply the spare part and maintain the airplane easier.I have travled through the spring aielines, it is almost the same with the main airlines in China while the price is lower. So I will continue support the spring airlines.

  5. I don’t think safety should be a big problem for people as every airline in the world has to follow the same rules for maintanance and such. Of course, still some airliners are lacking safety.

    I think, and this is from my own experiences, that flying with lowcost airlines usually gives less service. I don’t mean service like drinks/food on board or something similar… the service I am talking about is that they easier lose your luggage and even sometimes damage it. Also some other things in service may lack a bit sooner… it’s mostly, well I think it is because of this, because they have less money to operate and thus they will also work less for the passengers.

    How do you guys feel about service of lowcost airliners, such as virgin, easyjet, and such as this one?

  6. Hi there

    Its a great blog u hav there. I am doing a research on Starbucks in China and your articles on it is pretty interesting. It’s a good perspective from someone who is actually in Shanghai. The rest of your blog is simply awesome. A fren of mine is actually planning to work in Shanghai and I recommended your blog. it helps heaps.

    Keep it up mate… and great pictures.


  7. Thanks Jack.

    For the Spring Airlines, they just have 3 airplane but serving 12 routes. Here is what you have to compromise if you choose Spring Airlines. For me, none of them are that important for me.

    1. Their schedule may not be the best for you. For example, Shanghai to Qingdao, they only have flight on Mon, Thur, and Sat. Not a big deal.

    2. They don’t offer food or drink. It is OK, since all their destinations are tourism places that is within one or two hours.

    3. The low price is only available to book online, instead of travel agencies. Not a problem for me.

    4. You just cannot book the ticket, since it is too hot. In the last 12 months, their occupation rate is 94%, or higher (my memory, so may be wrong). Not an airline can get such a high rate, but it means most of the time, you cannot book the ticket.

    Safety is not a big concern from me – I know many people concerns about it. The safety standard is reported (please note, it is REPORTED) to be high. I can imagine if they can ensure 90% passenger rate instead of 45%, they can cut the price to half.

  8. Load factor up to 94% means it is fully sold on every flight, perhaps Spring Air set the fares too low.

  9. Hi,

    Anyone know whether this Spring Airlines goes from Shanghai to Dalian? and if so how much is a round trip ticket and how long is the flight?


  10. We flew Spring/Autum Airlines from Shanghai to Nanchang in June.

    All but a few of us were on its tour to Yunan.

    Overall its service was good.

  11. I went on a tour of Beijing and Tianjin with Spring Tour and flew Spring Airlines from Shanghai to Tianjin in December last year. The plane wasn’t very roomy, but considering the price of the tour, it was well worth it. We were served drinks (a bottle of water) during the flight and there was the option of buying snacks.

  12. I’ve flown Spring Airlines 3 times so far.

    They have very strict luggage requirements which we learned the hard way. 1st flight was from Shanghai to Zhuhai (to get to HK to fly out… cheaper that way than flying direct from Shanghai). Our trip was for 1 month so we brought quite a bit of luggage with us. Since we couldn’t read the Chinese online, we didn’t see that there was a lower kilogram limit (I think it is 12kg) for each piece of luggage! We were charged an additional 1000RMB just for the luggage. They also don’t allow regular sized carry on baggage (ie the 20″ rollers) so we had to check that in also!

    2nd flight was from Zhuhai to Shanghai. The reason why we returned on the same ariline was because we purchased the tickets in advance (before our trip abroad, and before we knew their luggage restrictions). This time we were smarter because we negotiated with the airline during check in. They gave us a discount price of 600RMB.

    The 3rd time I flew Spring Airlines was sometime last month (July 2006). I few from Zhuhai to Shanghai again. Spring Airlines contracts the job of checking in passengers to other airlines. There is usually one (sometimes 2) Spring employees that stand beside the checkin counter…. why? you ask? So they can charge people for their over weight luggage. THAT IS HOW SPRING MAKES THEIR MONEY…. EVERYONE ends up paying. Anyway, when I checked in, I was 5kg over my limit so I said to the checkin girl, “bu hao yisi… duo 5kg le” (sorry… went over by 5kg). She then tells me, “it’s ok… the guy is over on the other counter… I’ll check in the bag asap so he doesn’t see it!” What a relief!

    If you are planning on vacationing for an extended period of time and have luggage, I suggest that you don’t use Spring.

    ONE MORE DRAWBACK…. Spring flies in/out of the Hongqiao airport. The lineup for a taxi at that airport is crazy… It takes sometimes 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to cue up for a taxi. Insane. If I’m only saving a couple hundred rmb only, I would not fly Spring.

  13. Woops! Made a mistake in my previous posting.

    The limit isn’t 12kg for each piece of luggage. It was 12kg TOTAL for each person. Quantity of pieces didn’t matter, but weight did.

  14. hello guys! My husband and I will be in Xiamen this Sunday… Our first time in China. Then after a day in Xiamen, we are planning to go to Wuhan. Now, do you guys have an idea how much will that cost and how can we book a flight to Wuhan in Xiamen… I am having a little hard time looking for flights schedules… Do you know a travel agency in Xiamen we could go and purchase a cheap plane ticket to Wuhan?

    Thanks very much. Feel free to email me :-)

  15. Hi

    I am Pilot Capt A 320

    Please send to me any address for application


    william Parada

  16. Hi Guys,

    This blog is indeed a very informative one.

    I am doing a case study on Low Cost Airlines,please help me if you guys can.

    Thank you

  17. I think low-cost carriers aren’t less safe than major Chinese airlines. In fact, Spring Airline (SA) is using high-quality equipment from vendors such as GE, and has also awarded long-term maintenance contracts to GE. It’s the off-the-flight area on which low-cost carriers save their money. There are frequent reports on delayed SA flights ( and lost or damaged baggage.

    In this context, I have some general questions regarding air travel in China:

    1. Has there been any high-profile lawsuit between a plaintiff who had incurred significant financial losses due to a delayed domestic flight in China? If yes, what was the verdict? How are the odds for compensation resulting from a domestic flight delay?

    2. Is there a way to insure your baggage when booking a ticket?

    3. Are special rules applicable to low-cost carriers or do the same rules apply to standard airlines and low-cost carriers?

  18. I am to ge a job flying for Chinese Airlines. Can anybody help me out with contacts inside China??? Also can you email me Spring Airlines website.

    Happy Landings,

    Capt. Denis Murphy

  19. Can someone tell me how to access the airline site in order to purchase a ticket online for a friend to travel from shanghai to beijing.

    many thanks..

  20. Spring Airlines:

    Please note that in order to get the cheapest rate you have to pay by direct debit, which in turn requires your RMB checking account in China to be activated for this function.

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