Friday, June 20, 2014

Skymark to fly Airbus A330s to Sapporo from August.

On June 19th, Skymark Airlines (BC/SKY) announced that their third Airbus A330 will enter service on August 9th. Their first Airbus jetliners, which inaugurated service this past June 14th (Skymark Airlines inaugurates Airbus A330 service.) from Tokyo/Haneda (HND/RJTT) to Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF), will also be assigned to a morning round-trip between Haneda and Sapporo/New Chitose (CTS/RJCC) when the third example is on-line.
Airbus A330-343E JA330B rolls down Runway 16R at Haneda. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

During a shareholder's conference, President and CEO Shinichi Nishikubo told investors "A330 flights are showing load factors above 70%," adding "it's beating expectations and we believe our target of 85% could be reached." Japan's third largest carrier has configured their brand-new A330s in a generous 271-seat Green Seat all-premium layout, however, it still represents a 53% capacity increase compared to their Boeing 737-800s, which seat 177 in their all-economy cabin.

In addition, Skymark hopes to launch freight service by the end of the year using belly cargo space of the new wide-body Airbuses. The airline expects the cargo business to bring a 1.5 billion JPY increase in revenue. Meanwhile, an A330 maintenance crew base is being set up in Fukuoka and is hoped to be operational by September to negate the need to send staff in from Haneda whenever an A330 faces technical issues.

Skymark plans a fleet of five A330-300s by the end of this year, with the remaining five to be delivered by August 2015 for a total of 10. Two A330s (JA330A and JA330B) have so far been delivered. They will receive their third (JA330D) in August, fourth (JA330E) in October, fifth (JA330F) in December, while 2015 will see their sixth (JA330G) in February, seventh (JA330K) in April, eighth (JA330L) in June, ninth (JA330M) in July, and tenth (JA330N) in August. Meanwhile, their 737-800 fleet will be reduced to 27 by October 2015; JA737M will be returned to its lessor in September, JA737N in March 2015, and JA737P in October 2015.

After New Chitose, A330 operations will be expanded to Okinawa/Naha (OKA/ROAH) in February or March next year. Skymark expects spare A330s in off-peak travel seasons, especially during the northern winter, and Mr. Nishikubo noted "It would be logical for us to use them on international charters to places like Bali (Indonesia) or Alaska (U.S.A.)." Indeed, their A330s boast fully-equipped galleys for long-haul flights.

Reference: Skymark Airlines, June 13th. (PDF; in Japanese)
Reference: Traicy, June 16th. (in Japanese)
Reference: Aviation Wire, June 19th. (in Japanese) 

*Post edited/updated on June 20th.

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