Sunday, October 19, 2014

Air Do loads first international charter to Taipei.

AIRDO (HD/ADO) (d.b.a. Air Do) will operate its first ever international services on November 20th and 24th with round-trip Sapporo/New Chitose (CTS/RJCC) – Taipei/Taoyuan (TPE/RCTP) charters, as previously reported in May (Air Do plans Sapporo – Taipei charters in November.). 144-seat Boeing 737-700s will be assigned. The airline was originally founded as Hokkaido International Airlines in November 1996 with the aim of connecting the northernmost island of Japan with regional Asian countries, but changed its name to simply AIRDO effective October 2012.
Boeing 737-781(WL) JA15AN arrives at Air Do's New Chitose hub. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

JTB, Japan's largest travel agency, and Nippon Travel Agency will sell the flights as part of a five-day package tour to visit Taipei from Hokkaido and vice versa. Prices start from 69,800 JPY including fuel surcharge for adults. Tickets cannot be purchased without participating in one of the tours. Air Do plans to hand out their Bear Do mascot stuffed animal along with onion soup packages and flight certificates to the passengers.

Flight Schedule:
New Chitose – Taipei/Taoyuan one-time charter with B737-700.
HD9252 CTS 0825 – 1200 TPE 73W *Nov/20 only.
HD9252 CTS 1315 – 1650 TPE 73W *Nov/24 only.
HD9253 TPE 1300 – 1800 CTS 73W *Nov/20 only. 
HD9253 TPE 1750 – 2250 CTS 73W *Nov/24 only.

Obihiro (OBO/RJCB) in central Hokkaido was also considered, along with cities in Taiwan other than Taipei as well, however, Air Do chose a low-risk route as it had no experience in the overseas market. Domestic-only Obihiro would have required arrangements for a makeshift CIQ facility, while airports of Taiwan other than Taipei don't have ground handling support from partner All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA). ANA Holdings, parent of ANA, has a minority 14% stake in Air Do.

Air Do is evaluating additional regional international charters from Hokkaido for 2015 and beyond, and hopes to have some upgraded to scheduled services before the Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics in 2020. However, established carriers already operate several daily flights into Hokkaido from neighboring Asian countries. Mid-sized carriers like TransAsia Airways (GE/TNA), which now serves three Hokkaido cities from Taipei, have also grown presence, while LCCs such as Hong Kong Express Airways (UO/HKE) (d.b.a. HK Express), Spring Airlines (9C/CQH) (starting New Chitose in December), Tigerair Taiwan (IT/TTW), and V Air are all looking for opportunities. With regional Asian routes generally said to be better suited for LCCs, how will Air Do make it work?

Reference: Aviation Wire, October 17th. (in Japanese)

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