Shanghai finally has an answer to Okay Airlines! The first of Shanghai Spring Airlines’ Airbus 320s arrived at Hongqiao Airport earlier this week, and the budget airline expects its first flight to Shandong Province’s Yantai to leave on July 18. The China Daily makes it seem as though Yantai is the only destination Shanghai Spring currently has permission to fly.
Ever since China announced the gradual privatization of its airline industry earlier this year, it seems anyone with three airplanes can open up an airline — that’s because it’s true. The aptly named Okay Airlines (奥凯航空) — we can’t even get their website to load — was the first private Chinese airline to launch back in March. In addition to Okay and Shanghai Spring — owned and operated by Shanghai Spring International travel service — there are also reportedly private airlines in Chengdu (United Eagle Airlines) and Chongqing (Huaxia Airlines). Bangkok-based Air Asia has also started to offer discounted flights between Fuzhou in eastern Fujian Province and Bangkok. Hell, if people start buying ads on this website, maybe Shanghaiist will buy a few planes, too. Sounds like fun. Maybe we’ll call it “Average Air.”
Passenger trips inside China were up by almost 40 percent last year to 120 million, according to the BBC. More than 10 other private enterprises have applied for licenses to operate their own airlines in China. They’re calling them “budget airlines” and “no-frills flights” so people don’t have high expectations. Basically, just be happy you have a seat that is bolted to the floor. (Don’t expect convenience, either. Okay Airlines operates out of an airport 120 miles outside of Beijing.)
“To cut operating costs,” China Daily reports, “no meals or snacks will be served on any of the flights. Instead, each passenger will receive a complimentary bottle of distilled water. In addition, check-in luggage will be limited to 15 kilograms, at least 25 percent less than that allowed on regular flights. A lighter load … could help save fuel costs.” China Daily, citing China Business Weekly, went on to say “concerns have emerged in China that the industry will be crowded with large numbers of more-or-less qualified would-be entrants.”
Wait. That’s it! That’s our name: More-or-Less Qualified Airways. The secretary is drawing up the papers now. Meanwhile, we’re all booking train tickets.
If you start taking these no-frills flights and find yourself missing that good ol’ airplane food, head on over to Airlinemeals.net, where you can scan through thousands of photos of — you guessed it — airline meals. That’ll make your hunger go away.