Friday, March 7, 2014

Hokkaido Air System to resume Hakodate - Misawa.

Hokkaido Air System's (HC/NTH) new timetable effective April 25th through May 31st sees the revival of Sapporo/Okadama (OKD/RJCO) - Hakodate (HKD/RJCH) - Misawa (MSJ/RJSM) service, though this time it will only be operated on weekends and holidays. The daily non-stop Okadama - Misawa round-trip (CoachFlyer HC330: MSJ - OKD on Hokkaido Air System's Saab SF340.) remains unaffected. 
Saab SF340B-WT JA02HC arrives at Misawa. 'HAC' is their unofficial but preferred three-letter code. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

The Okadama - Hakodate - Misawa route was inaugurated on August 1st, 2013, but the Hakodate - Misawa sector was suspended on November 30th due to poor load factors, which are said to have been in the thirties. Staff have pointed out that the high-demand Okadama - Hakodate sector sold out relatively quickly, so passengers from Misawa willing to travel to Okadama could not find a ticket beyond Hakodate. With the new schedule, Hokkaido Air System is deploying a round-trip to add an additional Okadama - Hakodate frequency on weekdays, where there is business demand, while on weekends that round-trip will be used for Hakodate - Misawa.
New Routes/Resumptions:
Okadama - Hakodate - Misawa new weekend/holiday service with SF3.
HC337 OKD 1355 - 1435 HKD 1515 - 1550 MSJ SF3 Weekends/Holidays
HC338 MSJ 1625 - 1700 HKD 1730 - 1810 OKD SF3 Weekends/Holidays

Frequency Increases:
Okadama - Hakodate from up to 5 to 6 daily.

Meanwhile, the airline will run a reduced schedule from April 1st to 24th as one of its three Saab SF340B-WTs will undergo heavy maintenance. Frequencies will be cut on routes from Okadama to Hakodate and Kushiro (KUH/RJCK).

Majority shareholder Hokkaido Government, which has loans to Hokkaido Air System totaling 360 million JPY, is reported to have agreed in principle to write-off around 100 million JPY of the airline's debts as part of its restructuring. September 2013 saw liabilities exceeding HAC's assets by 136 million JPY. Japan Airlines (JL/JAL) is currently negotiating with the Hokkaido Government to make the loss-making commuter airline part of the JAL Group again by increasing its shareholding from the current 14.5% to 51%. JAL is expected to cover for about 33% of the debt write-off.

Source: Hokkaido Air System, February 21st. (PDF; in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, February 28th. (in Japanese)

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