Spring Airlines A320.

Shanghai-based Spring Airlines, the most successful Chinese low-cost carrier, is preparing to launch a carrier in Japan to gain a deeper foothold in the Japanese market.

Spring spokesman Zhang Wu’an said the carrier has registered a company in Japan; however, since foreign investors can hold no more than a one-third stake in a Japanese airline, it is looking for a Japanese partner. Zhang said Spring is negotiating with potential investors in the new entity (ATW Daily News, July 12).

According to Zhang, Spring also plans to explore other international markets. To that end, it will open new routes to Thailand and South Korea next year.

Spring, which has become one of the fastest growing carriers in China, is expected to report a higher net income in 2011 than the CNY460 million ($72.6 million) net profit it earned in 2010. The carrier is moving forward with an IPO, which is scheduled to launch on the Shanghai Stock Exchange next year, to fund fleet expansion (ATW Daily News, July 26).

Spring operates a fleet of 27 Airbus A320s and plans to expand to 50-60 aircraft by 2015.