Thursday, July 30, 2015

Spring Airlines Japan plans Kansai, Sapporo, and China.

Spring Airlines Japan [IJ/SJO] is poised to add Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] and Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] along with multiple Chinese cities during the Winter 2015/2016 timetable, which starts on October 25th. From their hub at Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA], Kansai will be served twice daily and New Chitose once daily. Chongqing [CKG/ZUCK] and Wuhan [WUH/ZHHH] are expected to become their first international destinations (Spring Japan cuts flights but hopeful for China in 2015.). Details will officially be released in late August.

Boeing 737-81D(WL) N272LM/JA01GR climbs on a pre-delivery test flight. Spring Japan's fleet of three Baby Boeings has remained the same since launching operations. (Photo: Spring Airlines Japan)

Kansai is natural considering Spring Airlines [9Q/CQH], which owns 48% (33% of voting rights) of the Japanese unit, already boasts nonstop services from there to 10 Chinese cities: Chengdu [CTU/ZUUU], Chongqing, Qingdao [TAO/ZSQD], Quanzhou [JJN/ZSQZ], Shanghai/Pudong [PVG/ZSPD], Tianjin [TSN/ZBTJ], Wuhan, Xian [XIY/ZLXY], and Zhengzhou [CGO/ZHCC]. Spring has ambitious plans to turn Kansai into a hub, flying 100 weekly flights to 20 Chinese destinations by 2020. Meanwhile, New Chitose is also served by China's biggest LCC five times weekly from Shanghai/Pudong.

Using a small fleet of three 189-seat Boeing 737-800s, Spring Japan only started operations last August (Spring Airlines Japan commences operations.) and currently flies from Narita to Hiroshima [HIJ/RJOA] twice daily, Saga [HSG/RJFS] daily, and Takamatsu [TAK/RJOT] four times weekly. These secondary routes are still unprofitable, except maybe for Hiroshima. It reported a 4.92 billion JPY loss for 2014, and its Chinese parent had injected 900 million JPY last December in the form of third-party allocation of non-voting stocks (Spring Japan posts heavy loss but mulls Asia expansion.).

Spring Japan's original mission had been to tap into secondary Chinese markets carrying mostly Chinese tourists to the Kanto (Greater Tokyo) region, as batch of slots and rights don't come easily for foreign carriers at Narita, much less at Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT]. Hence it hasn't emphasized expanding in Japan's domestic market compared to other LCCs such as Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] and Peach Aviation [MM/APJ]. However, Spring Japan will likely connect its Chinese parent's destinations in Japan as with Kansai, Saga, New Chitose, and Takamatsu, and has publicly stated international flights will not only serve China but Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia as well in the long term.

Source: Traicy, 2015 July 28th. (in Japanese)

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