Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New AirAsia Japan takeoff slipping to Summer 2016?

Effective December 1st, AirAsia Japan [DJ] revamped its board by essentially relegating CEO Yoshinori Odagiri to Adviser, a largely ceremonial position, and instead promoting CFO Osamu Hata to CEO and hiring bankrupt Skymark Airlines' [BC/SKY] former Chairman Takashi Ide as Chairman and former President Masakazu Arimori as CFO (AirAsia Japan CEO to quit, ex-Skymark executives coming.). But what made AirAsia Group swap management during such important times when it is preparing to launch operations?

Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ/F-WWBV seen before delivery. It was handed over to AirAsia Japan on October 9th, and arrived at Japan on October 16th. Their second aircraft, to be adorned with a special livery designed by Mika Ninagawa, will be delivered in February. (Photo: Tobias Gudat)

Reportedly, there was unmendable distrust between James Rhee, North Asia CEO for the AirAsia Group, and Mr. Odagiri. Japan's fifth LCC had been set back with a nine-month delay (AirAsia Japan is officially reborn; first flight June 2015.), largely due to shifting strategy to focus more on the international market rather than domestic, difficulties in recruiting pilots and setting up a maintenance scheme, and much-longer-than-anticipated preparation to apply for an Air Operator's Certificate (AOC), which it received on October 6th (New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.). But without Mr. Odagiri's strenuous yet patience-necessary talks with regulator Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB), AirAsia Japan could not have obtained it. However, Mr. Rhee could not wait any longer.

On the other hand, Mr. Hata, who previously worked as CEO for Dell Japan, does not have any experience in the airline industry, let alone a unique market like Japan. So talks to headhunt the former Skymark duo reportedly started as early as late September, when they withdrew from Japan's embattled third largest airline after sponsors Integral Corporation and ANA Holdings installed a new board (Skymark relaunched with ANA sponsorship.). Mr. Ide and Mr. Arimori had maintained both official and personal relationships with Mr. Fernandes; the first AirAsia Japan (Mk I) was originally planned to be a joint-venture (JV) with Skymark until ANA stepped in, while AirAsia Group bid to sponsor Skymark (ANA and AirAsia bid to save Skymark.), and at one time Mr. Ide envisioned merging Skymark with the new AirAsia Japan in the long-term. But all of this was politically difficult as Skymark held 36 precious slot-pairs at heavily-regulated Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] (AirAsia admits Skymark bid defeat, Japan unit delay to 2016.).

Meanwhile, its first aircraft, Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ, which had arrived on October 18th (New AirAsia Japan receives first Airbus A320.), remained dormant at Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG], as the airline still did not have a working maintenance team. The aircraft's battery died and its auxiliary power unit (APU) went out of order, and it was not able to have an engine run-up until early December. Training flights were expected by November, but that too has been pushed back to at least January. It is widely believed that its current April 2016 in-service target could be missed by several months. Sources close to the matter also point out that it has already used almost half of its initial 7 billion JPY capital, and cash injections are likely necessary as it takes delivery of its second A320 in February and more employees come on-line.

Can the ex-Skymark duo guide AirAsia Japan? They have wide and deep knowledge of the domestic market and expertise in running a low-cost operation in Japan's unique economic and regulatory environment, however, that said Skymark's success centered around its prized slots at Haneda while AirAsia Japan is based at Chubu Centrair, and Skymark has been a purely domestic carrier while AirAsia Japan plans to allocate at least 55% of its capacity to international. And there is reportedly already looming distrust between employees and the new management, and rumors point out Mr. Hata may be leaving the airline as well.

AirAsia Japan is a stepping stone for the AirAsia Group to expand its network to North America, and also has the potential to bring true (non-ANA/JAL) competition back to Japan. Hopes are still high AirAsia Japan would keep Mr. Fernandes' words, "This is Part 2 of AirAsia Japan's performance, and it will be the last. There won't be a third."

Source: Diamond Online, 2015 December 7th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 December 16th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 December 17th. (in Japanese)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Spring Airlines Japan granted approval to go international.

On December 16th, Spring Airlines Japan [IJ/SJO] announced that it had received approval from regulator Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) to launch international routes, paving way to commence Wuhan [WUH/ZHHH] and Chongqing [CKG/ZUCK] from their Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] hub on February 13th and 14th, respectively (Spring Airlines Japan files for Chongqing and Wuhan.).

Leased from GECAS, Boeing 737-86N(WL) JA02GR is one of only three aircraft in Spring Japan's tiny fleet. Initial plans to expand its fleet to 20 by 2017 have been delayed indefinitely. (Photo: Spring Airlines Japan)

Wuhan will start with a three-times-weekly service, operating on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, while Chongqing will operate four times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Both routes are timed to depart Narita in the morning for an afternoon arrival into the Chinese cities and an evening return to Japan. 189-seat Boeing 737-800s will be assigned. Tickets will go on sale at a later date not yet disclosed.

Flight Schedule:
Narita – Wuhan NEW 3 weekly with B737-800.
IJ1011 NRT 1020 – 1415 WUH 73H Mo/We/Sa *From Feb/13.
IJ1012 WUH 1515 – 1940 NRT 73H Mo/We/Sa *From Feb/13.

Narita – Chongqing NEW 4 weekly with B737-800.
IJ1021 NRT 0900 – 1415 CKG 73H Tu/Th/Fr/Su *From Feb/14.
IJ1022 CKG 1515 – 2025 NRT 73H Tu/Th/Fr/Su *From Feb/14.

Parent Spring Airlines [9C/CQH] already connects the two Chinese cities with Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB], while it also links Chongqing with Luoyang [LYA/ZHLY], Shanghai/Hongqiao [SHA/ZSSS], Shanghai/Pudong [PVG/ZSPD], Shenyang [SHE/ZYTX], Shenzhen [SZX/ZGSZ], and Shijiazhuang [SJW/ZBSJ]. It does not offer any domestic flights from Wuhan. Narita – Chongqing currently has Air China [CA/CCA] operating daily, while Narita – Wuhan sees a twice-weekly round-trip with China Southern Airlines [CZ/CSN] with All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] slated to enter with a daily service on April 28th, 2016.

Chairman Wang Wei had disclosed over a year ago that the two cities would be their first overseas destinations (Spring Japan considering Chongqing and Wuhan.). The Japanese affiliate of China's largest LCC only started flying in August 2014 with three routes from Narita (Spring Airlines Japan commences operations.). However, Takamatsu [TAK/RJOT] was suspended in October (Spring Airlines Japan to drop Takamatsu.), leaving the fledgling carrier with just twice-daily Hiroshima [HIJ/RJOA] and daily Saga [HSG/RJFS] round-trips. That said, Spring Japan is not envisioned to become a major domestic player, but a vehicle of the Spring Airlines Group to better access the China – Tokyo market as well as carry Chinese travelers visiting multiple cities in Japan.

Source: Spring Airlines Japan, 2015 December 16th. (in Japanese)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Jetstar Japan adds Nagoya and Kansai to Taipei.

Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] launched Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] – Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] on December 11th and Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] – Taipei/Taoyuan on December 12th (Jetstar Japan is coming to Taipei in November.), roughly two weeks after adding Taiwan's capital on November 27th with a link from Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] (Jetstar Japan launches Taipei, next up Manila.). The three-times-weekly services will be increased to daily from December 23rd and 24th, respectively. All flights are operated by 180-seat Airbus A320s.

Airbus A320-232(SL) JA14JJ departs Narita. Jetstar Japan's fleet is capped at 20 for the time being, and new services are launched by increasing aircraft utilization. (Photo: Jetstar Japan)

The inaugural flight from Kansai departed on December 11th at 2210 JST, 10 minutes behind schedule, and landed in Taoyuan at 0000 CST, 10 minutes before published time. A320-232(SL) JA17JJ was assigned. Meanwhile, the first flight from Chubu Centrair departed on December 12th at 0731 JST, six minutes early, and touched down at Taoyuan at 0939 CST, 11 minutes before schedule. A320-232(SL) JA18JJ was deployed.

Flight Schedule:
Osaka/Kansai – Taipei/Taoyuan NEW three weekly with A320-200 (daily from Dec/23).
GK51 KIX 2200 – 0010(+1) TPE 32A/320 We/Fr/Su *Dec/11 - 20.
GK51 KIX 2200 – 0010(+1) TPE 32A/320 Daily *From Dec/23.
GK50 TPE 1040 – 1405 KIX 32A/320 Mo/Th/Sa *Dec/12 - 21.
GK50 TPE 1040 – 1405 KIX 32A/320 Daily *From Dec/24.

Nagoya/Chubu Centrair – Taipei/Taoyuan NEW three weekly with A320-200 (daily from Dec/24).
GK91 NGO 0725 – 0950 TPE 32A/320 Mo/Th/Sa *Dec/12 - 21.
GK91 NGO 0725 – 0950 TPE 32A/320 Daily *From Dec/24.
GK92 TPE 0110 – 0445 NGO 32A/320 Mo/Th/Sa *Dec/12 - 21.
GK92 TPE 0110 – 0445 NGO 32A/320 Daily *From Dec/24.

Although Nagoya – Taipei/Taoyuan is a new route for the Jetstar Group, Kansai – Taipei/Taoyuan already has sister Jetstar Asia Airways [3K/JSA] operating up to twice daily. The two together with Jetstar Airways [JQ/JST] have antitrust immunity to coordinate flight times and prices on international routes between Japan and Taiwan and the Philippines.

Japan – Taiwan is fast becoming a highly competitive market, though so far there seems to be enough room for all to claim a slice of the growing pie. Kansai – Taipei/Taoyuan is served by China Airlines [CI/CAL], EVA Airways [BR/EVA], Japan Airlines [JL/JAL], Peach Aviation [MM/APJ], Tigerair Taiwan [IT/TTW], and TransAsia Airways [GE/TNA], while Nagoya – Taipei/Taoyuan, a route that only had China Airlines and JAL until recently, sees competition from V Air [ZV/VAX] starting December 16th, Tigerair Taiwan from January 29th, 2016, and AirAsia Japan [DJ] from April next year (New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.).

Source: Traicy, 2015 December 12th. (in Japanese)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Peach Aviation grows Okinawa; Narita and more Taipei.

On December 8th, Peach Aviation [MM/APJ] announced that it will launch Okinawa/Naha [OKA/ROAH] – Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] on February 20th, 2016. The new link will initially be operated three times per week, increasing to daily from the Summer 2016 timetable effective March 27th, using 180-seat Airbus A320-200s. The growing LCC will also expand Naha – Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] service from daily to 10 weekly from February 19th, and to twice daily from the Summer 2016 schedule.

Airbus A320-214 JA809P along with two others prepare for their next assignment at Kansai Airport's Terminal 2. Peach currently flies 17 A320s with the 18th due in March 2016. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

One-way fares for Naha – Narita start from 5,890 JPY for a Happy Peach ticket, which includes a 10-kilogram carry-on baggage allowance, and for Naha – Taipei/Taoyuan from 4,780 JPY. Tickets went on sale today. Both new round-trips are timed in the evening.

Flight Schedule:
Naha – Narita NEW three times weekly with A320-200. (From Feb/20.)
MM508 OKA 1600 1825 NRT 320 Mo/Th/Sa *Daily from Mar/27.
MM509 NRT 1900 2215 OKA 320 Mo/Th/Sa *Daily from Mar/27.

Naha – Taipei/Taoyuan increase from daily to 10 weekly with A320-200. (From Feb/19.)
MM921 OKA 0905 0940 TPE 320 Daily
MM927 OKA 1640 1715 TPE 320 We/Fr/Su *NEW. Daily from Mar/27.
MM922 TPE 1015 1245 OKA 320 Daily
MM928 TPE 1750 2020 OKA 320 We/Fr/Su *NEW. Daily from Mar/27.

Peach's second hub at Naha (Peach launches Naha hub; but Naha – Ishigaki axed.) currently boasts Fukuoka [FUK/RJFF], Hong Kong [HKG/VHHH], Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB], Seoul/Incheon [ICN/RKSI] (Peach Aviation starts Okinawa – Seoul.), and Taipei/Taoyuan, while Narita sees Fukuoka, Kansai, and Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] (Peach starts Narita to Fukuoka and Sapporo.). The Kansai-based LCC will make Tokyo's main international gateway its third hub (Peach confirms Narita hub; adds Fukuoka and Sapporo.), though Sendai [SDJ/RJSS] could come before depending on the availability of favorable slots at Narita (Peach plans Sendai hub by Summer 2017.).

Narita – Naha is also served by All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA], mostly catering to international – domestic connections, along with Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] and Peach's sister Vanilla Air [JW/VNL], making it the second route after Narita – New Chitose to see three LCCs competing. That said, ANA Holdings' two sister LCCs will initially avoid direct competition, as Vanilla's flight is in the morning while Peach's is in the evening, unlike with Narita – New Chitose. ANA has always considered consolidating the two as their network overlap becomes inevitable, however, while Vanilla is wholly-owned by ANA, it only holds a minority (though still significant) 39% stake in Peach and its CEO Shinichi Inoue has repeatedly shown preference to grow organically, making any merger out of question at least in the near term.

Source: Peach Aviation, 2015 December 8th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 December 8th. (in Japanese) 

Monday, November 30, 2015

AirAsia Japan CEO to quit, ex-Skymark executives coming.

New AirAsia Japan [DJ] has announced that effective December 1st, CEO Yoshinori Odagiri will resign and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Osamu Hata, formerly with Dell Japan, will be promoted to succeed the role. AirAsia Group has also confirmed that on the same date, ex-Skymark Airlines' [BC/SKY] executives will join the board, including former Chairman Takashi Ide and President Masakazu Arimori, both of whom stepped down from Japan's bankrupt third largest airline (Skymark to file for bankruptcy.) after a new management was installed by ANA Holdings, parent of All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA], and Integral Corporation (Skymark relaunched with ANA sponsorship.).

New AirAsia Japan's CEO Yoshinori Odagiri (center) poses in front of their maiden aircraft Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ at Chubu Centrair after delivery on October 16th. Osamu Hata will be promoted to CEO while ex-Skymark Airlines Takashi Ide will play the representative role of Chairman. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

AirAsia Group started courting the duo not long after Skymark's board was revamped effective September 29th. They had maintained both official and personal relationships with AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, and at one time Mr. Ide even envisioned handing Skymark control to Asia's largest LCC group in the long term (ANA and AirAsia bid to save Skymark.). Mr. Ide will become Chairman and Mr. Arimori will become CFO, taking the place of Mr. Hata. The duo has wide and deep knowledge of the domestic market and expertise in running a low-cost operation in Japan's unique economic and regulatory environment. That said, Skymark's success centered around its 36 slot-pairs at regulated Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] while AirAsia Japan is based at Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG], and Skymark has been a purely domestic carrier while AirAsia Japan plans to allocate at least 55% of its capacity to international.

Mr. Odagiri, who also served as CEO with the first AirAsia Japan [JW/WAJ] (CoachFlyer JW8541: NRT - FUK on AirAsia Japan's Airbus A320.), will become Adviser. Although no reason has officially been given, the former ANA veteran is likely stepping down due to conflict of ideas within the board on how the new Japanese unit would be run. Having been founded in July 2014, Japan's fifth LCC has been set back with almost a year's delay in launching operations (AirAsia Japan is officially reborn; first flight June 2015.), largely due to shifting strategy to focus more on the international market rather than domestic, difficulties in recruiting pilots and setting up a maintenance scheme, and much-longer-than-anticipated preparation to apply for an Air Operator's Certificate (AOC), which it obtained on October 6th (New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.).

In terms of voting rights, the new AirAsia Japan is owned by AirAsia Investment 33%, Rakuten 18%, Noevir Holdings 18%, Alpen 18%, and FinTech Global Trading 13%. Having received an AOC, it took delivery of its first Airbus A320 on October 9th (New AirAsia Japan receives first Airbus A320.) and revealed that operations would start in April 2016 from their Chubu Centrair hub to Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC], Sendai [SDJ/RJSS] (New AirAsia Japan mulls Nagoya – Sendai.), and Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP]. The original AirAsia Japan ceased operating in October 2013 after the Malaysian parent terminated the joint-venture (JV) with partner ANA due to managerial differences. It has since been relaunched as Vanilla Air [JW/VNL] under full ANA control (Vanilla Air launches operations.).

Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 November 27th. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2015 November 28th. (in Japanese)
Source: Asahi Shimbun, 2015 November 29th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 November 30th. (in Japanese)

*Edited/updated on November 30th.  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jetstar Japan launches Taipei, next up Manila.

On November 27th, Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] launched Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP], initially serving the Taiwanese capital three times a week from Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] (Jetstar Japan is coming to Taipei in November.). Taiwan becomes the Narita-based LCC's only second international destination after Hong Kong [HKG/VHHH] (Jetstar Japan goes international with Kansai – Hong Kong.). Operated by 180-seat Airbus A320s, the new link will be increased to four times weekly on December 14th and daily from December 23rd.

Airbus A320-232(SL) JA20JJ arrives at Narita. Jetstar Japan operates 20 aircraft, while another four are currently sub-leased out to other carriers. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The outbound flight departs Narita approximately one hour before the 2300 curfew, and arrives into Taipei in the middle of the night, while the return leg departs Taipei before dawn and arrives back at Narita in the morning, about an hour after the airport opens at 0600. Inaugural flight GK011 departed at 2132 JST, eight minutes ahead of schedule, carrying 169 passengers. A320-232(SL) JA20JJ, the airline's newest machine, was assigned. Unlike most inaugural flights, ceremonial events were only held at the departure gate and not during the flight, as it runs on a red-eye timetable. The flight arrived at Taipei at 0035 CST.

Flight Schedule:
Tokyo/Narita – Taipei/Taoyuan NEW three weekly with A320-200 (daily from Dec/23).
GK011 NRT 2140 – 0040(+1) TPE 32A/320 Fr *From Nov/27.
GK011 NRT 2200 – 0100(+1) TPE 32A/320 We/Su *Nov/27 - Dec/9.
GK011 NRT 2200 – 0100(+1) TPE 32A/320 Mo/We/Su *Dec/11 - 21.
GK011 NRT 2200 – 0100(+1) TPE 32A/320 Mo/Tu/We/Th/Sa/Su *From Dec/23.
GK012 TPE 0330 – 0730 NRT 32A/320 Mo/Th/Sa *Nov/28 - Dec/10.
GK012 TPE 0330 – 0730 NRT 32A/320 Mo/Tu/Th/Sa *Dec/12 - 22.
GK012 TPE 0330 – 0730 NRT 32A/320 Daily *From Dec/24.

"So far, about 60-65% of passengers are from Taiwan, and 35-40% are from Japan," said Chairman Masaru Kataoka, adding "Since it's timed for an early-morning arrival in Tokyo and late-night return to Taiwan, it may be a good schedule for the Taiwan side." Mr. Kataoka believes it can take advantage of brand recognition as Taipei is already served by sister airline Jetstar Asia Airways [3K/JSA], with service to and from Singapore/Changi [SIN/WSSS] and Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB].

Jetstar Japan only launched international flights in February this year, with service to Hong Kong from Kansai (Jetstar Japan goes international with Kansai – Hong Kong.) followed by Narita from June (Jetstar Japan starts Narita – Hong Kong.). For Taipei, flights to and from Kansai will follow on December 11th and Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] on December 12th (Jetstar Japan is coming to Taipei in November.). The carrier hopes to add  Manila/Ninoy Aquino [MNL/RPLL], to become its third overseas city, in Spring 2016. Sister Jetstar Asia already flies Kansai – Manila.

Jetstar Japan, Jetstar Asia, and Jetstar Airways [JQ/JST] already have regulatory approval to coordinate flight times and prices on international routes between Japan and Taiwan and the Philippines, which they received from Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) on October 2nd.

Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 November 28th. (in Japanese)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Peach Aviation announces Haneda – Seoul.

On November 11th, Peach Aviation [MM/APJ] revealed that they will commence Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] – Seoul/Incheon [ICN/RKSI] on February 5th, 2015. It will become their second route from the downtown Tokyo airport after Taipei (Peach Aviation inaugurates Haneda – Taipei.), which was only launched in August, and their 10th international route overall. On the same day, they are also adding a fourth round-trip between Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] and Seoul.

Airbus A320-214 JA817P/F-WWBZ at Toulouse Blagnac. Peach's 17th aircraft will be delivered later this month. (Photo: Tobias Gudat)

Along with Peach's Taipei link from Haneda, the new service will also use the heavily-regulated airport's under-utilized midnight slot-pairs reserved exclusively for international routes. The aircraft for the Seoul – Haneda route arrives into Seoul as the fourth flight from Kansai late in the evening, and turns around for the inbound flight to Haneda. After a brief 60-minute stay, it returns to Seoul as the outbound red-eye flight from Haneda, in time for the first flight of the day from Seoul back to Kansai.

Flight Schedule:
Haneda – Seoul/Incheon NEW 1 daily with A320-200.
MM1009 HND 0200 – 0435 ICN 320 Daily *From Feb/6.
MM1008 ICN 2250 – 0100(+1) HND 320 Daily *From Feb/5.

Kansai – Seoul/Incheon increase from 3 to 4 daily with A320-200.
MM001 KIX 0750 – 0945 ICN 320 Daily
MM005 KIX 1240 – 1435 ICN 320 Daily
MM009 KIX 1815 – 2010 ICN 320 Daily *No ops Feb/29 - Mar/3, Mar/7-10, 14-17, 22-24.
MM011 KIX 2000 – 2155 ICN 320 Daily *From Feb/5.
MM012 ICN 0745 – 0925 KIX 320 Daily *From Feb/6 except Feb/11-26 Thu/Fri.
MM012 ICN 0725 – 0905 KIX 320 Thu/Fri *Feb/11-26.
MM002 ICN 1025 – 1205 KIX 320 Daily
MM006 ICN 1515 – 1655 KIX 320 Daily
MM010 ICN 2050 – 2230 KIX 320 Daily *No ops Feb/29 - Mar/3, Mar/7-10, 14-17, 22-24.

One-way fares for Haneda – Seoul start from 5,680 JPY for a Happy Peach ticket, which includes a 10-kilogram carry-on baggage allowance, and will go on sale on November 18th at 1500 JST. A promotional round-trip 9,000 JPY will be offered for travel between February 16th and March 17th provided the passenger boards both legs on the same day, allowing for a 18-hour stay in South Korea's capital. Kansai – Seoul starts from 5,280 JPY and the new round-trip went on sale today.

Due to regulatory obstacles, Peach so far has a split operation for Tokyo; international routes to Seoul and Taipei leave from Haneda and domestic routes to Fukuoka [FUK/RJFF], Kansai, Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] depart from Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] (Peach starts Narita to Fukuoka and Sapporo.). Any new domestic flights or daytime international services need to fly from Narita as the Kansai-based LCC does not hold slots for those purposes at Haneda. Seoul becomes Peach's second international destination after Taipei to be served from three points in Japan; Okinawa/Naha [OKA/ROAH] (Peach Aviation starts Okinawa – Seoul.), Kansai, and Haneda. Will Hong Kong [HKG/VHHH] be the third?

Source: Peach Aviation, 2015 November 11th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 November 11th. (in Japanese)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Spring Airlines Japan files for Chongqing and Wuhan.

On November 4th, Spring Airlines Japan [IJ/SJO] announced that they had officially filed an application with the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) to launch its first international routes from Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] to Chongqing [CKG/ZUCK] and Wuhan [WUH/ZHHH] in February 2016, coinciding with the Chinese New Year peak travel season. Chairman Wang Wei had disclosed over a year ago that these would be their first overseas destinations (Spring Japan considering Chongqing and Wuhan.).

Boeing 737-86N(WL) JA02GR taxies at Narita. Spring Japan is not envisioned to become a major domestic player; it is a vehicle of the Spring Airlines Group to better access the Tokyo market, both politically and regulatorily, and carry Chinese travelers visiting multiple Japanese cities. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Wuhan will start on February 13th with a three-times-weekly service, operating on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, while Chongqing will follow on February 14th operating four times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Details of the schedule will be released at a later date. 189-seat Boeing 737-800s will fly the new routes.

Parent Spring Airlines [9C/CQH] already connects the two Chinese cities with Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB], while it also links Chongqing with Luoyang [LYA/ZHLY], Shanghai/Hongqiao [SHA/ZSSS], Shanghai/Pudong [PVG/ZSPD], Shenyang [SHE/ZYTX], Shenzhen [SZX/ZGSZ], and Shijiazhuang [SJW/ZBSJ]. It does not offer any domestic flights from Wuhan. Meanwhile, Narita – Chongqing currently sees Air China [CA/CCA] operating daily and Narita – Wuhan has a twice-weekly round-trip with China Southern Airlines [CZ/CSN].

The Japanese affiliate of China's largest LCC only launched revenue flights last year in August 2014 with three routes from their Narita hub (Spring Airlines Japan commences operations.). However, Takamatsu [TAK/RJOT] was suspended after October 23rd (Spring Airlines Japan to drop Takamatsu.), leaving the fledgling carrier with just twice-daily Hiroshima [HIJ/RJOA] and daily Saga [HSG/RJFS] services for a still small fleet of three 737s. It will not be adding any aircraft for the time being. Domestic expansion is also reportedly in the works, with Kansai and Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] to be launched as early as Spring 2016 (Spring Airlines Japan plans Kansai, Sapporo, and China.). Its Chinese parent is building a hub at Kansai, while it also serves the Hokkaido capital from Shanghai/Pudong.

Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 November 4th. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2015 November 4th. (in Japanese)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Air Do launches Hiroshima and Nagoya.

On October 25th, AIRDO [HD/ADO] (d.b.a. Air Do) launched daily Hakodate [HKD/RJCH] – Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG], daily Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] – Hiroshima [HIJ/RJOA], and three-times-daily New Chitose – Chubu Centrair (Air Do is coming to Hiroshima and Nagoya.) utilizing 144-seat Boeing 737-700s. Hiroshima becomes the Hokkaido carrier's westernmost destination.

Boeing 737-781(WL) JA11AN takes off from Hiroshima for the inaugural service to New Chitose. All of Air Do's 737s along with two 767s have been supplied by strategic partner ANA. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Flight HD115, the inaugural service from Hiroshima to New Chitose, departed one minute ahead of schedule at 0849 JST carrying 96 passengers including two children. It was flown by 737-781(WL) JA11AN, which had been ferried from Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] the night before. Meanwhile, the first service from Hokkaido as HD118 left New Chitose at 1840 with a load of 134 passengers.

Flight Schedule:
New Chitose – Hiroshima NEW 1 daily with 737-700.
HD118 CTS 1840 – 2055 HIJ 73W Daily
HD115 HIJ 0850 – 1040 CTS 73W Daily

New Chitose – Chubu Centrair NEW 3 daily with 737-700.
HD130 CTS 0800 – 0955 NGO 73W Daily
HD132 CTS 1040 – 1235 NGO 73W Daily
HD136 CTS 1515 – 1710 NGO 73W Daily
HD133 NGO 1305 – 1445 CTS 73W Daily
HD135 NGO 1450 – 1630 CTS 73W Daily
HD137 NGO 1740 – 1920 CTS 73W Daily

Hakodate – Chubu Centrair NEW 1 daily with 737-700.
HD128 HKD 1230 – 1410 NGO 73W Daily
HD127 NGO 1035 – 1200 HKD 73W Daily

Although the three routes are new on paper, this is essentially a transfer from All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA], whose parent ANA Holdings directly controls 13.61% of Air Do and holds roughly 46% when combined with the shares owned by Development Bank of Japan (DBJ), a strong financial partner of ANA. Effective the same day, ANA axed its daily New Chitose – Hiroshima and Hakodate – Chubu Centrair routes and reduced New Chitose – Chubu Centrair from six daily to four daily, while putting its code on all of Air Do's new services and buying approximately 40% of its seats (ANA axes Oshima and transfers two routes to Air Do.).

Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 October 25th. (in Japanese)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Notice: Changes coming to ZipanguFlyer.

Effective October 25th, 2015, ZipanguFlyer will be changing coverage.

Boeing 787-8s of ANA and JAL at Haneda. Directly and indirectly, the two major carriers together still control, or have influence over, all domestic slots at Japan's most important airport serving the capital. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Until now, this blog has covered most, if not all of the news of airlines registered in Japan. However, due to my lack of time, I will be narrowing down coverage to mostly LCCs and non-ANA/JAL carriers. Local commuter airlines flying only specific essential air links will also be omitted.

Airlines that will continue to be covered:
AirAsia Japan [DJ], AIRDO [HD/ADO] (d.b.a. Air Do), Fuji Dream Airlines [JH/FDA], IBEX Airlines [FW/IBX], Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP], Peach Aviation [MM/APJ], Skymark Airlines [BC/SKY], Skynet Asia Airways [6J/SNJ] (d.b.a. Solaseed Air), Spring Airlines Japan [IJ/SJO], Star Flyer [7G/SFJ], Vanilla Air [JW/VNL]

Airlines that will no longer be regularly covered:
Air Japan [NQ/AJX], All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA], Amakusa Airlines [AHX], ANA Wings [EH/AKX], First Flying [DAK], Hokkaido Air System [HC/NTH], J-Air [XM/JLJ], Japan Air Commuter [3X/JAC], Japan Airlines [JL/JAL], Japan Transocean Air [NU/JTA], New Central Airservice [CUK], New Japan Aviation [NJA], Nippon Cargo Airlines [KZ/NCA], Oriental Air Bridge [OC/ORC], Ryukyu Air Commuter [RAC], Toho Air Service [THK]

Topics of ANA and JAL are already well covered by various media, while demand for news regarding local niche commuter airlines has been minimal, at least in English.

In the meantime, I will be experimenting giving the blog a personal touch. Thank you for your support and understanding. Happy travels!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

ANA's Star Wars Boeing 787 enters revenue service.

On October 18th, All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] put its first Star Wars-themed aircraft Boeing 787-9 JA873A R2-D2 ANA JET (ANA unveils Star Wars Boeing 787 R2-D2 ANA JET.) in revenue service as flight NH116 from Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] to Vancouver [YVR/CYVR]. It departed from Spot 110 at 2148 JST, two minutes ahead of schedule.

Boeing 787-9 JA873A R2-D2 ANA JET is being pushed back at Tokyo's Haneda Airport for its inaugural revenue flight to Vancouver. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

ANA has configured the aircraft with 215 seats in a three-class layout; 48 business (staggered 1-2-1), 21 premium economy (2-3-2), and 146 economy (3-3-3) (ANA's international Boeing 787-9 debuts.). Cabin LEDs feature green, blue, and red to represent the epic space opera and John Williams' famous Star Wars music is turned on from departure to taxi and takeoff. Headrest covers along with paper napkins and cups also feature the iconic robot character of the movie.

The economy class cabin of R2-D2 ANA JET. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The aircraft had carried its first passengers on the previous day serving a scenic charter flight (ANA's Star Wars Boeing 787 flies first passenger flight.). R2-D2 ANA JET will also be deployed on limited scheduled domestic routes on a one-off basis; Haneda to Hakodate [HKD/RJCH] and Miyazaki [KMI/RJFM] on October 20th, to Hiroshima [HIJ/RJOA] and Matsuyama [MYJ/RJOM] on October 22nd, and to Kagoshima [KOJ/RJFK] and Osaka/Itami [ITM/RJOO] on October 31st.

R2-D2 ANA JET Domestic Flight Schedule:
Haneda – Miyazaki one-time on October 20th.
NH603 HND 0840 – 1025 KMI 789 Oct/20
NH608 KMI 1110 – 1245 HND 789 Oct/20

Haneda – Hakodate one-time on October 20th.
NH555 HND 1340 – 1500 HKD 789 Oct/20
NH556 HKD 1550 – 1715 HND 789 Oct/20

Haneda – Matsuyama one-time on October 22nd.
NH583 HND 0725 – 0855 MYJ 789 Oct/22 *CANCELED AS OF OCT/20.
NH584 MYJ 0950 – 1115 HND 789 Oct/22 *CANCELED AS OF OCT/20.

Haneda – Hiroshima one-time on October 22nd.
NH679 HND 1315 – 1435 HIJ 789 Oct/22 *CANCELED AS OF OCT/20.
NH680 HIJ 1520 – 1645 HND 789 Oct/22 *CANCELED AS OF OCT/20.

Haneda – Kagoshima one-time on October 31st.
NH619 HND 0655 – 0850 KOJ 789 Oct/31
NH622 KOJ 0945 – 1120 HND 789 Oct/31

Haneda – Itami one-time on October 31st.
NH027 HND 1400 – 1505 ITM 789 Oct/31
NH032 ITM 1600 – 1710 HND 789 Oct/31

After Vancouver, it will mostly fly Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] – San Jose [SJC/KSJC] from mid-October to late November, Narita – Seattle-Tacoma [SEA/KSEA] at the beginning of December, and Haneda – Sydney/Kingsford Smith [SYD/YSSY] (ANA announces Haneda – Sydney.) from mid-December. It will later be assigned to Beijing/Capital [PEK/ZBAA], Jakarta/Soekarno-Hatta [CGK/WIII], Munich [MUC/EDDM], and Paris/Charles de Gaulle [CDG/LFPG] as well.

Paper napkins and cups also feature R2-D2. (Photo: ANA)

The five-year Star Wars Project agreement with The Walt Disney Company (Japan) (ANA reveals Star Wars Project.) will take advantage of the release of The Force Awakens, the series' latest episode and the first of the next trilogy, to bolster ANA's brand-awareness in the international arena. Due to overwhelming popularity, ANA has decided to paint two more aircraft in the Star Wars theme (ANA announces Boeing 777 and 767 Star Wars Jets.); one 767-300 is planned for November and a 777-300ER for March 2016.

Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 October 18th. (in Japanese)

*Last edited/updated on 2015 October 26th.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Solaseed makes international debut with Kaohsiung charter.

On October 17th, Skynet Asia Airways [6J/SNJ] (d.b.a. Solaseed Air) operated its first ever international service, a round-trip charter between Miyazaki [KMI/RJFM] and Kaohsiung [KHH/RCKH] (Solaseed Air reveals Miyazaki – Kaohsiung charter.). It is being flown as part of a three-day four-night packaged tour from Miyazaki to Taiwan's second biggest city and vice versa.

Boeing 737-81D(WL) JA801X departs Miyazaki on Solaseed Air's first ever international flight. It launched operations back in August 2002. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The outbound leg departed Miyazaki at 0848 JST carrying 158 passengers, mostly local business officials, five flight attendants, and two pilots. Boeing 737-81D(WL) JA801X was assigned. For the first time, the local carrier of Kyushu served in-flight meals and alcoholic beverages on board.

Flight Schedule:
Miyazaki – Kaohsiung NEW charter with 737-800.
6J9167 KMI 0850 – 1020 KHH 73H Oct/17
6J9167 KMI 1155 – 1325 KHH 73H Oct/20
6J9168 KHH 1130 – 1440 KMI 73H Oct/17
6J9168 KHH 1435 – 1745 KMI 73H Oct/20

Miyazaki's local transportation company Miyakoh Group, which owns 24% of Solaseed, is responsible for marketing in Japan, while JPK International Air Service, based in Taipei, is carrying out sales in Taiwan. "We hope to make this a success and increase charters; we would like to learn what we could do and what our customers want us to do," said Hiroshi Takahashi, President of Solaseed (Solaseed Air eyes international charters in FY2015.).

The Kyushu-based carrier currently flies 68 daily domestic flights covering 10 routes and 10 destinations using a dozen 737-800s. Their entire domestic network code-shares and is closely coordinated with All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] (Solaseed Air expands Okinawa with Ishigaki and Nagoya.), whose parent ANA Holdings controls roughly 9% of Solaseed, and virtually 35% when combined with the shares of Development Bank of Japan, a long-time ANA partner. Its official name will also be changed to Solaseed Air effective December 1st (Skynet Asia to officially change name to Solaseed Air.).

Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 October 17th. (in Japanese)
Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, 2015 October 18th. (in Japanese)