Spring Airlines’ Japan subsidiary, Spring Airlines Japan has reportedly been approved (Times Weekly, 13-Jun-2013). Spring Airlines holds a 33% stake in the start-up. As previously reported, Spring Airlines Japan delayed its launch in the Japan domestic market from spring 2013 to the end of 2013 or early 2014 due to delays in its approval from Japan MLIT. Spring Airlines Japan has applied to operate services from Tokyo Narita to Kumamoto, Hiroshima and Takamatsu. The carrier is also reportedly considering operating its international service from Tokyo Narita after 2014.
Spring Airlines Japan approved, delays launch to 2014: report
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Spring Airlines orders 60 aircraft, including its first A321s, to accelerate international expansion
Spring Airlines’ purchase agreement for 60 A320 family aircraft is another development in what has been a historic year for China’s largest LCC.
In 2015 Spring has listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, surpassed a 50 aircraft fleet, celebrated its 10th anniversary, become the first Chinese airline – and one of the first in the world – to take a 186 seat A320, and become featured on the government travel portal amidst austerity measures.
Along with the IPO, the aircraft order may be a defining event for years to come. 60 aircraft is small fry compared to the multi-hundred blockbuster orders in Southeast Asia from the likes of AirAsia, Lion Air and VietJet, but for China – and a private carrier such as Spring – 60 is significant. Spring’s IPO exposes it to market forces, and Chinese aviation is undergoing an upheaval, caught up in corruption investigations.
Japanese LCCs could tackle booming Chinese market as AirAsia Japan launches and Spring Japan expands
There is no shortage of superlatives to describe the passenger traffic growth between China and Japan. Chinese visitors are quickly becoming Japan's single largest tourism source. China Southern's Japan passenger numbers in the first nine months of 2015 have exceeded its traffic for the full year 2014. 14 Chinese airlines intend to serve Japan at the end of 2015, including five carriers which have entered in 2014 or 2015. China's Spring Airlines has virtual bases at Nagoya and Osaka Kansai and is planning to construct hotels in Japan to accommodate the visitors it is bringing over.
Japan's LCC sector is vibrant, with five start-ups in four years. They have helped rejuvenate Japanese traffic despite the shrinking economy and decreasing local population. Yet they have remained absent from the China-Japan market. The 2012 China-Japan territorial dispute weakened travel conditions, and since then the local LCCs appear to have felt overwhelmed by the influx of Chinese carrier capacity. This will start to change: AirAsia Japan plans to launch in Mar-2016 and eventually serve China, a market its affiliate carriers know well. Spring Airlines Japan, the locally established JV of Shanghai-based Spring, will finally commence international services in 2016 and is making two Chinese cities, Chongqing and Wuhan, its first destinations. Despite the growth already witnessed, this is only the beginning for the market. Japanese LCCs will have a role in its expansion.