Saturday, August 2, 2014

Spring Airlines Japan commences operations.

Spring Airlines Japan (IJ/SJO) launched operations on August 1st, linking Tokyo/Narita (NRT/RJAA) with Hiroshima (HIJ/RJOA), Saga (HSG/RJFS), and Takamatsu (TAK/RJOT) using 189-seat Boeing 737-800s. The former two destinations are served twice daily, while the latter is served once daily. They become the fourth LCC to be launched in Japan, but the first of its kind that is not affiliated with an existing Japanese carrier.
Boeing 737-86N(WL) JA02GR takes off for Saga on the inaugural day. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The inaugural flight, IJ621, departed Narita on-time at 0655 JST with 148 passengers (load factor 78.3%) and took off at 0714, arriving at Hiroshima at 0831. It was operated by 737-81D(WL) JA01GR. Their second flight, IJ601, service from Narita to Saga, was operated by 737-86N(WL) JA02GR. For the first day, flights operated with two pilots and five cabin attendants, instead of the usual four.
Flight Schedule (Aug/1 – Oct/25/2014):
Narita – Hiroshima NEW 2 daily with 737-800.
IJ621 NRT 0655 – 0835 HIJ 73H Daily
IJ623 NRT 1625 – 1805 HIJ 73H Daily
IJ622 HIJ 0920 – 1050 NRT 73H Daily
IJ624 HIJ 1850 – 2020 NRT 73H Daily

Narita – Saga NEW 2 daily with 737-800.
IJ601 NRT 1055 – 1255 HSG 73H Daily
IJ603 NRT 1655 – 1855 HSG 73H Daily
IJ602 HSG 1340 – 1525 NRT 73H Daily
IJ604 HSG 1940 – 2125 NRT 73H Daily

Narita – Takamatsu NEW 1 daily with 737-800.
IJ613 NRT 1150 – 1315 TAK 73H Daily
IJ614 TAK 1410 – 1525 NRT 73H Daily
The ribbon-cutting ceremony at Narita was attended by officials from the destination prefectures, Narita Airport, and the airline including Representative Director Hiroshi Ukai, Executive Director Minoru Uchida, Chairman Wang Wei, and Wang Zhenghua, Chairman of Spring Airlines. (Photo: Spring Airlines Japan)

From Narita, fares to Hiroshima start at 5,690 JPY, to Saga from 5,700 JPY, and to Takamatsu from 5,630 JPY. Its highest fare for each route has been set at around 25,000 JPY, but the airline says that price is "for government paperwork purposes," and in reality they have no intention to offer that fare. Competitor Jetstar Japan (GK/JJP) already serves the Narita – Takamatsu market twice daily offering fares as low as 3,990 JPY, but Spring Airlines Group Chairman Wang Zhenghua emphasizes they "don't want to get into a fare war."

Spring Airlines Japan is the Japanese unit of China's largest LCC Spring Airlines (9C/CQH). Japanese largest travel agency JTB also holds a minority interest. Flights were originally planned for May, however, paperwork delays and crew training taking more time forced them to postpone their launch twice (Spring Airlines Japan delays launch to August 1st.).
Spring Airlines Japan flies their Boeing 737-800s in a 189-seat layout. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Unlike its Chinese parent, which flies 42 Airbus A320s, Japan's newest LCC opted for the 737, taking advantage of Japan's historical relationship with Boeing and hence the larger population of Japanese aviation professionals working with American-assembled airplanes. Shortage of Airbus-rated pilots in Japan have caused massive travel disruptions at competitors Peach Aviation (MM/APJ) (Peach outlines Summer 2014 mass cancellations.) and Vanilla Air (JW/VNL) (Vanilla Air cancels 154 flights in June due to pilot shortage.).

Spring Airlines Japan will add five aircraft each year from 2015 onwards, targeting to reach a fleet of 20 sometime in 2017. It is reportedly considering adding its fourth domestic destination early next year.

Reference: Spring Airlines Japan @ Facebook. (in Japanese)
Reference: Aviation Wire, August 1st. (in Japanese)
Reference: Traicy, August 1st. (in Japanese)

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