Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hokkaido Air System to become a JAL subsidiary again.

Japan Airlines (JL/JAL) is moving forward with plans to make Hokkaido Air System (HC/NTH), which calls itself HAC, a subsidiary again by October this year. JAL will increase its shareholding in the struggling commuter carrier from the current 14.5% to 51%.
Saab SF340B-WT JA01HC arrives at Misawa. Will this be short-lived livery? (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

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. JAL is expected to cover for about 33% of the debt write-off as well.

Meanwhile, HAC will be increasing frequency on the Okadama – Misawa and Okadama – Rishiri (RIS/RJER) routes for the peak Obon homecoming season in August.

Flight Schedule (August 9th - 17th):
Okadama – Misawa 2 daily with SF340B.
HC331 OKD 1005 1105 MSJ SF3 Daily
HC937 OKD 1625 1725 MSJ SF3 Daily *Aug/9-17 only.
HC330 MSJ 1135 1235 OKD SF3 Daily
HC938 MSJ 1755 1855 OKD SF3 Daily *Aug/9-17 only. 

Okadama – Rishiri 2 daily with SF340B.
HC671 OKD 0825 0920 RIS SF3 Daily *Aug/9-17 only.
HC673 OKD 1410 1505 RIS SF3 Daily
HC672 RIS 0950 1045 OKD SF3 Daily *Aug/9-17 only.
HC674 RIS 1535 1630 OKD SF3 Daily

HAC celebrated their first anniversary of the Sapporo/Okadama (OKD/RJCO) – Misawa (MSJ/RJSM) route (CoachFlyer HC330: MSJ – OKD on Hokkaido Air System's Saab SF340.), which was launched on July 1st last year, filling the void left by JAL when they terminated the link in 2007. Load factor from inauguration through May this year was 53.2%, above the break-even line. However, their seasonal Hakodate (HKD/RJCH) – Misawa route, which ran from August to November last year, saw a dismal 10.0%, prompting HAC to change strategy by making it a weekends-and-holidays-only service (Hokkaido Air System to resume Hakodate – Misawa.) from April.

A bigger challenge HAC will need to face this year is All Nippon Airways' (NH/ANA) double-daily Aomori (AOJ/RJSA) – Sapporo/New Chitose (CTS/RJCC) service (ANA returns to Aomori with Osaka and Sapporo flights.), which just inaugurated this past July 1st. JAL already flies the link three-times-daily. The city of Aomori is only a two-hour drive from Misawa.

HAC is currently owned 36.47% by Hokkaido Government, 14.49% by JAL, 13.53% by City of Sapporo, 5.02% by City of Hakodate, 4.74% by Hokkaido Bank, 4.74% by North Pacific Bank, 4.74% by Hokkaido Electric Power, 3.04% by the City of Kushiro, 1.97% by Seicomart, 1.01% by the City of Asahikawa, 1.01% by Hokkaido Chuo Bus, 1.01% by Sapporo Breweries, etc.

Reference: Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, July 4th. (in Japanese) 
Reference: Yomiuri Shimbun, July 11th. (in Japanese)
Reference: Hokkaido Air System, July 14th. (in Japanese)

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