Remember Spring Airlines. The Chinese low-cost carrier hit the headlines earlier this year when it put forward a proposal for standing-only seats on aircraft, a concept left-field enough to land on Michael O'Leary's radar for publicity ideas.
Well Spring were in Barcelona for the Congress, insist the idea is feasible and are calling for the low-cost carrier industry to come together to look further into its development.
Spring Airlines spokesman Zhang Wuan told delegates the idea was aimed at tapping into the roughly 70% of the Chinese population - which they term the 'grass roots people' - who will never be able to afford to fly. He talks of an aircraft concept using the half-standing concept - which Spring dubs the X322 - which could take capacity from 180 on its existing A320s to 258 seats under the new aircraft concept.
"This caused tremendous debate after our proposal," says Waun, pointing to the global coverage the concept provoked, indeed citing amongst others comments from Flightglobal's very own IFE and interiors guru Runway Girl.
"A number of people have shown their support for half-standing," adds Wuan, pointing for example to a survey carried out in China. Indeed he cited one respondent as saying, "as long as it is cheap enough, I will buy half-standing tickets, even if I have to sit on my luggage".
Spring says safety and meeting regulatory requirements are key to the project, and acknowledges the challenges to the concept. But it believes it is feasible.
"Despite the feasible idea and technology, the difficulty lies in industrialisation," says Waun. "A few orders from one airline obviously is not able to attract aircraft manufacturers to design a new aircraft type. But if all low-cost airlines made an alliance and place a large order, the new aircraft type is no longer just a dream on paper." And he urges the low-cost airline industry to come together to further research the project.
Spring's half-standing concept is the bit that attracts the headlines, but the story of Spring is already interesting enough as a private, low-cost carrier trying to carve a niche in the Chinese market. Their chief executive Zhang Xiuzhi, who also spoke during the Congress, attributed developing their own distribution system as being key to their success. "It was the first time an airline in China had used its own distribution system, " she says.