Qunar, one of China’s largest online travel sites, is planning to launch a low-cost airline based in Shenzhen.
The company confirmed this week that it will initially invest CNY600 million (US$92 million) in Shenhui Airlines, in partnership with another local firm in Shenzhen.
According to Qunar, the start-up carrier plans to take to the skies as early as in 2017. Shenhui Airlines will build a fleet of 12 aircraft by 2019, enabling it to operate domestic and international flights to destinations in Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea.
The carrier will operate under a low-cost model, and Qunar plans to capitalise on its online expertise to drive sales.
Qunar is owned by Baidu, the Chinese online giant, and rival OTA Ctrip.com recently acquired a stake in the company. Shenhui Airlines will be based at Shenzhen’s Baoan International Airport, where will compete with three local rivals: Shenzhen Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Donghai Airlines.