Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jetstar Japan loads first international to Hong Kong.

On December 3rd, Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] announced that they will launch its first international service on February 28th from Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] to Hong Kong [HKG/VHHH]. The Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA]-headquartered LCC will start with three weekly flights using 180-seat Airbus A320s, with frequency to be increased gradually.

Airbus A320-232(SL) JA17JJ taxies at New Chitose Airport near Sapporo. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

It will operate a morning outbound leg from Kansai and an afternoon return leg from Hong Kong on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until March 28th, except for February 28th and March 3rd, which is a Saturday and Tuesday. From March 29th through July 17th, the flight will operate on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, and time will also move to an evening departure and a red-eye return arrival.

Flight Schedule (February 28th - July 17th, 2015):
Kansai – Hong Kong NEW 3 weekly with A320-200.
GK061 KIX 0955 – 1310 HKG 32A/320 Sa *Feb/28 only.
GK061 KIX 0840 – 1155 HKG 32A/320 Tu *Mar/3 only.
GK061 KIX 0835 – 1150 HKG 32A/320 Fr/Su *Mar/6 - 28.
GK061 KIX 0955 – 1310 HKG 32A/320 Sa *Mar/6 - 28.
GK063 KIX 1720 – 2015 HKG 32A/320 We/Fr/Su *Mar/29 - Jul/17.
GK062 HKG 1410 – 1825 KIX 32A/320 Sa *Feb/28 only.
GK062 HKG 1300 – 1715 KIX 32A/320 Tu *Mar/3 only.
GK062 HKG 1245 – 1700 KIX 32A/320 Fr/Su *Mar/6 - 28.
GK062 HKG 1410 – 1825 KIX 32A/320 Sa *Mar/6 - 28.
GK064 HKG 2125 – 0205(+1) KIX 32A/320 We/Fr/Su *Mar/29 - Jul/17.

Fares will start from 5,990 JPY and go up to 33,490 JPY, excluding the 2,200 JPY fuel surcharge, for a one-way Starter fare, which only includes a seven-kilogram carry-on baggage allowance. Tickets went on sale today, December 3rd, at 1600 JST. A limited number of seats are being offered at a promotional price of 599 JPY, excluding the 2,200 JPY fuel surcharge. Fares can be upgraded to Plus Bundle for 2,000 JPY extra, which adds mileage accrual on either Japan Airlines' [JL/JAL] Mileage Bank or Qantas Airways' [QF/QFA] Frequent Flyer, free seat selection, and a 1,000 JPY voucher for use on board. 12,400 JPY extra would get you a Max Bundle fare, which adds a 20-kilogram check-in baggage allowance, flight change flexibility (at a cost), and partner lounge access, in addition to the Plus Bundle benefits.

Japan – Hong Kong had been a market not penetrated by LCCs, until Hong Kong Express Airways [UO/HKE] (d.b.a. HK Express) and Peach Aviation [MM/APJ] entered relatively recently. Jetstar Japan's choice of the former British colony may also have to do with shareholder JAL not serving the market from Kansai anymore. Narita may have been avoided (at least initially) due to LCCs rapidly adding capacity in the coming months, with Vanilla Air [JW/VNL] (Vanilla Air inaugurates Hong Kong.) going double-daily and HK Express going 12 weekly from February. The latter is also going double-daily on their Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] route later this month.

But Kansai doesn't seem too much easier. Rival Peach already operates double-daily along with HK Express' double-daily. It will also need to fight with the full-service carriers; Air India [AI/AIC] flies three weekly, All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] once daily, and Cathay Pacific Airways [CX/CPA] five to six daily. However, if sister carrier Jetstar Hong Kong [JM/JKT] succeeds in obtaining an operating permit from the local authorities, synergies, including connections, could help both.

Regional international routes is the last ingredient of Jetstar Japan's original recipe. A 11 billion JPY capital injection by its two major shareholders JAL and Qantas was only announced last week (Jetstar Japan to receive 11 billion JPY from JAL and Qantas.), after the so-far-unprofitable LCC posted another 11.1 billion JPY loss (Jetstar Japan lost 11.1 billion JPY in its third year.), its biggest loss yet, which put themselves in three consecutive years of losses. An insufficient number of trained maintenance workers had repeatedly delayed the launch of its Kansai hub (Jetstar Japan launches Kansai hub.), which lowered aircraft utilization rates and forced the company to delay opening new routes.

Source: Jetstar Japan, December 3rd. (PDF; in Japanese)

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