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)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

ANA's Star Wars Boeing 787 flies first passenger flight.

On October 17th, All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] operated a scenic charter flight using Boeing 787-9 JA873A R2-D2 ANA JET, which was unveiled on September 14th (ANA unveils Star Wars Boeing 787 R2-D2 ANA JET.) and had arrived at Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] on October 2nd after officially being handed over on September 29th. It became the first passenger-carrying flight for the first Star Wars-themed airplane.

Passengers on the scenic flight pose in front of Boeing 787-9 JA873A R2-D2 ANA JET after arriving back at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. Many participants wore costumes of popular characters from Star Wars. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The sightseeing flight flying from and back to Haneda carried 170 passengers; 49 winners from a photo contest on ANA's website, 25 lucky groups of two who won the draw from 27,315 ANA Mileage Club (AMC) members' applications, and specially-invited guests along with media. R2-D2 ANA JET departed Haneda at 1327 JST and flew over Shizuoka, Nagoya, Miyatsu, Otsu, Hamamatsu, and Oshima, before returning to Tokyo's downtown airport at 1546.

Participants wearing costumes of characters from Star Wars. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

This marks the first time a character from the popular epic space opera appears on the exterior of a commercial aircraft, and the first of three special-themed aircraft featuring Star Wars to be painted by Japan's now largest airline (ANA reveals Star Wars Project.). The stretched Dreamliner is configured with 215 seats in a three-class configuration; 48 business, 21 premium economy, and 146 economy. Headrest covers along with paper napkins and cups also feature the iconic robot character in the series.

A participant dressed up as Darth Vader. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Its first revenue flight is planned for October 18th as flight NH116 from Haneda to Vancouver [YVR/CYVR]. It will also be deployed to Beijing/Capital [PEK/ZBAA], Jakarta/Soekarno-Hatta [CGK/WIII], Munich [MUC/EDDM], Paris/Charles de Gaulle [CDG/LFPG], San Jose [SJC/KSJC], and Sydney/Kingsford Smith [SYD/YSSY] (ANA announces Haneda – Sydney.). Due to its popularity, ANA has decided to place the aircraft on limited 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.

Source: All Nippon Airways Japan @ Facebook.
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 October 17th. (in Japanese)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

New AirAsia Japan receives first Airbus A320.

On October 16th, AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) [DJ] first aircraft, Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ (MSN 6706), arrived at its hub at Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG]. Japan's newest airline had taken delivery of the airplane on October 9th. It departed Toulouse/Balgnac [TLS/LFBO] on October 14th and touched down at the main airport serving Nagoya at 1248 JST on October 16th, after making fuel stops at Cairo [CAI/HECA], Muscat [MCT/OOMS], and Yangon [RGN/VYYY]. As with other AirAsia-branded carriers' A320s, the airframe is configured with 180 seats.

Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ receives a traditional water-cannon salute upon arriving at Nagoya' Chubu Centrair and passing by the prototype Boeing 787 Dreamliner donated to the airport. AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) second aircraft, which is planned for delivery in February 2016, will wear a special livery designed by photographer and film director Mika Ninagawa. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The reincarnation of AirAsia's Japanese unit received its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) on October 6th (New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.) and will launch operations in April 2016 initially serving three cities from Chubu Centrair; Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC], Sendai [SDJ/RJSS] (New AirAsia Japan mulls Nagoya – Sendai.), and Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP]. All will launch with double-daily frequencies, and details of the schedule will be released in late November when tickets will go on sale. Its fleet will start with two A320s, then quickly build up to six by year-end 2016, and see five additions each year after that to reach 11 by 2018, 16 by 2019, and at least 20 by 2020, when the Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics take place.

"Chubu's 24-hour operation is very attractive as it enables us to add red-eye or early morning flights, thus helping to increase aircraft utilization. The A320 can fly up to 4.5 hours, so all of Japan is covered and Korea, China, Taiwan, Guam, and Saipan are all within reach. Although we aren't in the position to disclose our fourth city, we will actively be adding new destinations in the first five years with a little more emphasis on international than domestic," said CEO Yoshinori Odagiri in a press conference at their RedBase headquarters following delivery, adding "Nagoya is one of Japan's three biggest metropolitan regions along with Tokyo and Osaka, and with Aichi being an industrial area, its population has been increasing. Until now, many have used airports in Tokyo or Osaka to travel beyond, but we would like to create more options from Chubu." The airline is aiming to produce its first full-year profit for FY2018.

Flight attendants of the new AirAsia Japan (Mk II) pose inside brand-new Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ at Chubu Centrair. Crew training flights using the aircraft are expected to start as early as November. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

"We can be flying at least 120 flights in and out of Chubu by 2020," enthused Mr. Odagiri, adding "If we have 20 airplanes and each of them fly six flights (three round-trips) that adds up to 120. If we can have them fly eight legs, the figure would be greater." Aircraft-movement-wise, All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] is currently the biggest carrier at Chubu Centrair with approximately 90 daily departures and arrivals, and AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) ambition exceeds that. Their next domestic city is expected to be Fukuoka [FUK/RJFF], with all near-term domestic additions to be in Hokkaido, Tohoku (Northeastern Japan), and Kyushu, where it would not need to compete with the super-efficient Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train). For international, coastal cities of China that are already served by AirAsia Group carriers are currently being closely looked at.

Chubu Centrair is planning to restart construction of a LCC terminal, with decision to be made by the end of the year. Mr. Odagiri said "We are currently talking with airport officials about how the terminal should look like including design and features. We hope they will go ahead with it, and we plan on moving there by 2018." The original plan was shelved when the first AirAsia Japan (Mk I) [JW/WAJ] halted operations in 2013, however, demand for a LCC-dedicated facility is increasing, with not only AirAsia Japan (Mk II) but also Chinese LCC Spring Airlines [9C/CQH] building a hub at Chubu Centrair. Other LCCs serving the airport include Cebu Air [5J/CEB] (d.b.a. Cebu Pacific), Hong Kong Express Airways [UO/HKE] (d.b.a. HK Express), Jeju Air [7C/JJA], and Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP], while V Air [ZV/ZAX] is starting in December.

In terms of voting rights, the new AirAsia Japan (Mk II) is owned by AirAsia Investment 33%, Rakuten 18%, Noevir Holdings 18%, Alpen 18%, and FinTech Global Trading 13%. It was founded in July 2014 (AirAsia Japan is officially reborn; first flight June 2015.) after the original AirAsia Japan (Mk I) (CoachFlyer JW8541: NRT - FUK on AirAsia Japan's Airbus A320.) stopped flying in October 2013 when the Malaysian parent terminated the joint-venture (JV) with partner ANA Holdings due to managerial differences. With the latter controlling 66%, everything needed to have consent from ANA, whose true interest was to tame AirAsia to protect the lucrative domestic market. That company now operates as Vanilla Air [JW/VNL] (Vanilla Air launches operations.) under 100% ANA control. This time around, AirAsia Japan (Mk II) will be making decisions on its own.

Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 October 16th. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2015 October 16th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 October 16th. (in Japanese)
Source: MyNavi, 2015 October 16th. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2015 October 17th. (in Japanese)
Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, 2015 October 17th. (in Japanese)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Jetstar Japan is coming to Taipei in November.

On October 13th, Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] announced that they will start Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] – Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] on November 27th, followed by Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] – Taipei/Taoyuan on December 11th (Jetstar Japan launches Kansai hub.) and Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] – Taipei/Taoyuan on December 12th. All three routes will initially operate three times weekly, increasing to daily by the end-of-the-year peak travel season. 180-seat Airbus A320s will be deployed.

Airbus A320-232 JA05JJ arrives at Matsuyama. Jetstar Japan's fleet remains capped at 20, excluding four aircraft sub-leased out to other carriers. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

The return legs for the Narita and Chubu Centrair links to Taiwan's capital are red-eye flights, while Narita and Kansai's outbound legs are timed late in the evening. Tickets went on sale at 1600 JST today, and promotional fares are offered for all three new routes starting from one-way 990 JPY, excluding tax and fuel surcharges.

Flight Schedule:
Tokyo/Narita – Taipei/Taoyuan NEW three weekly with A320-200 (daily from Dec/23).
GK11 NRT 2140 – 0040(+1) TPE 32A/320 Fr *From Nov/27.
GK11 NRT 2200 – 0100(+1) TPE 32A/320 We/Su *Nov/27 - Dec/9.
GK11 NRT 2200 – 0100(+1) TPE 32A/320 Mo/We/Su *Dec/11 - 21.
GK11 NRT 2200 – 0100(+1) TPE 32A/320 Mo/Tu/We/Th/Sa/Su *From Dec/23.
GK12 TPE 0330 – 0730 NRT 32A/320 Mo/Th/Sa *Nov/28 - Dec/10.
GK12 TPE 0330 – 0730 NRT 32A/320 Mo/Tu/Th/Sa *Dec/12 - 22.
GK12 TPE 0330 – 0730 NRT 32A/320 Daily *From Dec/24.

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.

Narita – Taipei/Taoyuan is high-demand but now sees heavy competition; full-service carriers Cathay Pacific Airways [CX/CPA], China Airlines [CI/CAL], Delta Air Lines [DL/DAL], EVA Airways [BR/EVA], Jetstar Japan's 33.3% owner Japan Airlines [JL/JAL], and TransAsia Airways [GE/TNA] along with fellow LCCs Scoot [TZ/SCO], Tigerair Taiwan [IT/TTW], and Vanilla Air [JW/VNL] all ply the route. Kansai – Taipei/Taoyuan already sees China Airlines, EVA, JAL, Jetstar Asia Airways [3K/JSA], Peach Aviation [MM/APJ], Tigerair Taiwan, and TransAsia Airways operating, while Chubu Centrair – Taipei/Taoyuan has China Airlines and JAL only, though V Air [ZV/VAX] is preparing to enter in December and new AirAsia Japan [DJ] in April 2016 (New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.).

Taipei only becomes Jetstar Japan's second international destination after Hong Kong; service from Kansai was launched in February (Jetstar Japan goes international with Kansai – Hong Kong.) followed by Narita in June (Jetstar Japan starts Narita – Hong Kong.). On October 2nd, the Narita-based LCC together with Jetstar Airways [JQ/JST] and Jetstar Asia received regulatory approval from Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) to coordinate flight times and prices on international routes between Japan and Taiwan and the Philippines. Manila could become Jetstar Japan's third international city.

Source: Jetstar Japan, 2015 October 2nd. (in Japanese)
Source: Jetstar Japan, 2015 October 13th. (in Japanese)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hokkaido Air System loads Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk charter.

Hokkaido Air System [HC/NTH] announced that they will operate a charter flight between Sapporo/Okadama [OKD/RJCO] and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk [UUS/UUHS] on the Russian-controlled island of Sakhalin, or Karafuto in Japanese, later this month using its 36-seat Saab SF340B. It will be operated on behalf of the Sakhalin-Hokkaido Economy Mission, a group of local business executives and Hokkaido government officials, including Governor Harumi Takahashi, visiting Sakhalin to strengthen economic ties.

Saab SF340B-WT JA01HC rests between flights at Sapporo's Okadama Airport. It continues to fly in this unique livery, though officially it was scrapped by HAC and replaced by JAL's conventional crane logo effective July 16th to reflect the change in ownership. (Photo: Hokkaido Air System)

Mrs. Takahashi will meet Governor of Sakhalin Oleg Kojemiako to discuss how to promote economic relations and participate in the opening of Hokkaido Center, built by Japanese-Russian joint-venture Hokkaido Developers Group, or HODEG. It will house the Hokkaido branch for Sakhalin.

Flight Schedule:
Okadama – Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk charter with SF340B. 
HC901 OKD 0900 – 1115 UUS SF3 *Oct/22 only charter.
HC102 UUS 1230 – 1245 OKD SF3 *Oct/22 only ferry flight.
HC103 OKD 1400 – 1615 UUS SF3 *Oct/24 only ferry flight.
HC904 UUS 1715 – 1730 OKD SF3 *Oct/24 only charter.

Hokkaido Air System, unofficially but commonly referred to as HAC, became a Japan Airlines [JL/JAL] subsidiary once again after the nation's second largest carrier increased its stake in Hokkaido's commuter airline to 51.23% effective October 23rd, 2014 (JAL raises Hokkaido Air System stake to 51%.). It was originally founded jointly by Japan Air System [JD/JAS] and the Hokkaido Government back in September 1997 to provide high-speed public transportation between the island's major cities as well as the small remote islands.
From its hub at Okadama, the smaller but more convenient airport near downtown, HAC currently operates to Hakodate [HKD/RJCH], Kushiro [KUH/RJCK], Misawa [MSJ/RJSM] (CoachFlyer HC330: MSJ - OKD on Hokkaido Air System's Saab SF340.), and Rishiri [RIS/RJER], plus a link to Okushiri [OIR/RJEO] from Hakodate, using a fleet of three SF340Bs. JAL is currently considering using HAC to resume three intra-Hokkaido routes; Hakodate – Kushiro, Hakodate – Asahikawa [AKJ/RJEC], and Okadama – Memanbetsu [MMB/RJCM] (Hokkaido Air System to resume three intra-island routes.).

Source: Hokkaido Government, 2015 October 2nd. (in Japanese)
Source: Hokkaido Air System, 2015 October 2nd. (in Japanese)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.

On October 6th, AirAsia Japan (Mk II) [DJ] was officially granted an Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) from Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT). It had filed an application on July 21st (AirAsia Japan confirms Spring 2016 launch from Nagoya.). Japan's newest LCC will launch operations in early April 2016 from its Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] hub (AirAsia Japan selects Nagoya Chubu Centrair.) to Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC], Sendai [SDJ/RJSS] (New AirAsia Japan mulls Nagoya – Sendai.), and Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] using an initial fleet of two 180-seat Airbus A320s. Its two-letter IATA code will be DJ.

The new AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) first aircraft Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ/F-WWBV at Hamburg/Finkenwerder. It will be delivered shortly and is planned to arrive at Nagoya's Chubu Centrair on October 16th. (Photo: Tobias Gudat)

All three routes will start off with two daily round-trips, and details of their flight schedule will be released in late November, which will coincide with ticket sales start. The Japanese unit of Asia's largest LCC group aims to offer fares at approximately half or third of the price of full-service carriers such as All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] and Japan Airlines [JL/JAL]. AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) initial expansion will focus on international destinations already served by an AirAsia Group carrier and within a four-hour radius from Chubu Centrair, with domestic routes following afterwards. It sees itself eventually flying 55% international and 45% domestic.

"We're targeting both inbound and domestic visitors. The Chubu (Greater Nagoya) region also has a population of 15 million, so there should be much more demand," said Yoshinori Odagiri, CEO of AirAsia Japan (Mk II), adding "For Sendai, those from abroad want to see Sakura in the spring and snow in the winter, and it's becoming popular among the Japanese too. If we can create demand and increase to four or five flights a day, it may become more appealing to business travelers as well." Sendai will be an all-new city on AirAsia Group's network; New Chitose is served by AirAsia X [D7/XAX] and Taipei/Taoyuan by both AirAsia [AK/AXM] and the AirAsia X.

AirAsia Japan (Mk II) has built Red Base, its headquarters and the base for other AirAsia Group activities in Japan, on the grounds of Nagoya Chubu Centrair. A 180-room low-cost hotel is also being erected at the airport by affiliate Red Planet Japan on behalf of Tune Hotels. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

"We are very excited to be back in Japan. We have fantastic partners here and we are united in the vision to change the way people travel in Japan," commented AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, going on to say "Centrair is a fantastic base and with our new routes, we look forward not only to enable the Japanese to enjoy our direct destinations but to connect them to the rest of Asia and beyond on our extensive network." The group's Malaysian long-haul arm is looking at resuming service to Chubu Centrair, along with Thai AirAsia X [XJ/TAX] as well, when ICAO's red flag on Thailand is lifted, to feed the Japanese unit's network.

Its first aircraft, A320-216(SL) JA01DJ, will arrive at Chubu Centrair on October 16th, having completed its first flight on July 7th and currently awaiting delivery at Toulouse/Blagnac [TLS/LFBO]. AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) A320s will be supplied from the huge AirAsia Group order pool, and they plan on building its fleet to six by the end of 2016. Five aircraft will be added each year onwards; 11 aircraft by the end of 2017 and 16 by the end of 2018. If demand warrants, they have the option to add two additional A320s by the end of 2018. Its headquarters were officially moved to its brand-new Red Base at Chubu Centrair effective September 29th, and the first batch of crews have already started training in Malaysia. The current workforce of 100 will be increased to around 250 by April 2016.

AirAsia Japan (Mk II) (AirAsia Japan is officially reborn; first flight June 2015.) also completed a shareholding structure reorganization on September 25th. Voting-rights-wise, AirAsia Investment's 33% and Rakuten's 18% ownership haven't changed, while Noevir Holdings' shareholding has been increased from 13.4% to 18% and Alpen from 7.4% to 18%, with FinTech Global Trading, a new investor, now holding 13%. Meanwhile, Octave Japan Infrastructure Fund no longer holds any voting stocks, though it will retain non-voting shares. This is AirAsia Group's second crack into the Japanese market; the original AirAsia Japan (Mk I) [JW/WAJ] (CoachFlyer JW8541: NRT - FUK on AirAsia Japan's Airbus A320.) ended in a divorce with joint-venture (JV) partner ANA Holdings due to managerial differences only 10 months after launching operations. That company now operates as Vanilla Air [JW/VNL] (Vanilla Air launches operations.) under 100% ANA control.

Source: The Star (Malaysia), 2015 October 6th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 October 6th. (in Japanese)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ryukyu Air Commuter launches Q400 Cargo-Combi.

On September 30th, Ryukyu Air Commuter [RAC] disclosed that it will acquire five of the Bombardier DHC-8-400Q Dash 8 Cargo-Combi, becoming one of the new variant's launch customers. The contract was unidentified at the time of order at the Farnborough Air Show in July 2014. All five airframes will be delivered in combi configuration seating 50 passengers, with the first aircraft expected to arrive in December 2015, followed by crew training before entering service in April 2016.

A rendering of RAC's Bombardier DHC-8-400Q Dash 8 Cargo-Combi. (Image: Bombardier)

RAC currently operates a single 50-seat DHC-8-300Q alongside four 39-seat DHC-8-100Qs, and the new Q400s will replace these aircraft on a one-to-one basis. All five machines will be delivered by the end of FY2017. Based on list prices, the order is valued at approximately 168 million USD. "RAC shares a long history with Bombardier, collaborating together since 1997 when we first introduced Japan to the Dash 8 Series 100 aircraft. Since then, the Dash 8 has become the backbone of our efficient and productive operation," said Takashi Irei, RAC's President.

"Today we celebrate another first as we confirm that the Q400 Cargo-Combi aircraft is the ideal platform for our future fleet as we endeavor to offer comfort, reliability, and improved air transportation capabilities to our passengers, while supporting our local economies and communities with our extra cargo capability. Equipped with a new fleet, RAC looks forward to carrying many additional passengers as they enjoy travelling around Japan’s Okinawa islands,” Mr. Irei continued. RAC's Q400 Cargo-Combi will boast 23.4 cubic meters of cargo space, compared to 9.1 for the Q300 and 8.5 for the Q100.

Based at Okinawa/Naha [OKA/ROAH], RAC is a regional commuter airline connecting the remote islands in the Ryukyu Archipelago in southern Japan. It is 72.9% owned by JAL Group's Okinawan affiliate Japan Transocean Air [NU/JTA], 5.1% by the Government of Okinawa, and the remainder by local businesses.

Source: Bombardier, 2015 September 30th. (in English)
Source: Traicy, 2015 September 30th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 September 30th. (in Japanese)