• A plane from Chinese carrier Spring Airlines departs from Hongqiaou Airport in Shanghai.

A plane from Chinese carrier Spring Airlines departs from Hongqiaou Airport in Shanghai. (Photo : Getty Images)

Spring Airlines, China's first and largest budget carrier, plans new flights from Chinese cities to neighboring markets overseas.

Chinese carrier Spring is established in 2004. It is the aviation subsidiary of Shanghai Spring International Travel Service. It is China's most internationalized airline, with nearly 40 percent of its capacity serving international flights.

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This year, the airline is planning to launch more routes from some Chinese cities to neighboring markets such as Phnom Penh in Cambodia and Cebu in the Philippines. More routes from Chinese cities to Japan are also included in the plan.

Zhang Wu'an, vice president and spokesman for Spring Airlines, said: "Because of the limited scheduled flight time of major airports, most of our international flights are mid- and short-hauls between second- and third-tier Chinese cities and first- and second-tier foreign cities."

"Given the government's strategic objective to expand the Belt and Road markets, and an increasing demand for outbound tourism from Chinese travelers, it's very necessary for domestic airlines to add more international flights," Zhang added.

Spring has launched flights from Chinese cities to destinations along the Belt and Road markets since 2015. These include routes from Xi'an to Osaka Japan and Chengdu to Siem Reap Cambodia. These routes have played a crucial role in guiding the expansion of the airline into more overseas markets.

Zhang said: "With our low-cost operating model and price advantages, we would like to further discover the potential markets in second- and third-tier cities. We hope to exploit growth opportunities presented by China's new wave of urbanization."

He further said that Spring is currently facing cost challenges due to rising fuel prices and intensified competition from overseas budget airlines.

"The oil price rise will have a negative effect on domestic airlines. Airlines are very susceptible to fluctuations in oil prices, and it will be a challenge to their economic performance," said Li Xiaojin, a professor of aviation economics at the Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin.