China’s first budget airline is poised to lobby industry regulators for permission to install standing-only “seats” on its planes so it can cram more people on board.
Shanghai-based Spring Airlines said it would offer cheaper fares to those willing to stand at a vertical seat, according to China National Radio. Spring Airlines wants to install vertical seats on its planes so it can squeeze more people on board.
Chairman Wang Zhenghua confirmed to China National Radio that he wants standing-only cabins on his planes and is seeking government approval.
The 70-year-old billionaire says he began exploring the idea in 2008 after a chaotic Chinese New Year travel rush.
Customers told China National Radio that they would be hesitant to buy a ticket for a vertical seat out of safety—and comfort—concerns.
Spring Airlines plans to work with manufacturers on a design that would include a safety belt.
The low-cost carrier, founded in 2004, offers flights as cheap as 1 pound ($1.50) and flies to destinations in China, Japan, Thailand and other Asian countries.
Even though designs have been proposed and no-frills airlines have expressed interest, the vertical seat concept has not taken off because it hasn’t received approval from authorities.
Ryanair abandoned its proposal in 2012 after it was thwarted by an unnamed regulator.
The Irish carrier planned to install 10 rows of vertical seats on its planes—increasing capacity by about 40 passengers—and charge less than 5 pounds ($7.50) to travelers who were willing to stand.
Last year, Airbus filed a patent for a new seat that is similar to a bicycle saddle that flips up when it is not in use. The design, intended for short-haul flights, would increase capacity for airlines and leave passengers with even less space.