"China's first private airline, Spring Airlines, is pushing the concept of no-frills travel to the extreme, announcing plans to strip its aircraft of seats.
Spokesman Zhang Wuan unveiled the proposal yesterday, telling CCTV that standing-room-only cabins could accommodate up to 40 per cent more passengers.
The move follows comments by China's vice premier, Zhang Dejiang, who argued that citizens "should be able to get on a plane like catching a bus".
Spring Airlines, which currently has fleet of 13 aircraft, has been overwhelmed in recent months by burgeoning demand for its low-cost flights.
The carrier has already placed an order for 14 new jets, but as Mr Wuan explained: "The process of plane making is really long ... and it is also very expensive."
He said that in addition to boosting capacity, the airline's costs would be cut by 20 per cent if passenger seats were removed. Mr Wuan continued: "It's just like bar stools. The safety belt is the most important thing. It will still be fastened around the waist."
Senior officials in Beijing are believed to have floated the idea, with reports suggesting that influential vice premier Zhang Dejiang personally voiced his approval.
Summing up talks with Mr Dejiang, Spring Airlines president Wang Zhenghua told Ananova: "He suggested that, for a lower price, passengers should be able to get on a plane like catching a bus, with no seat, no luggage consignment, no food, no water – but very convenient."
In 2006, The New York Times reported that plane manufacturer Airbus has been "quietly pitching the standing-room-only option to Asian carriers". Its concept reportedly involved propping passengers against a padded backboard secured by a harness."