Saturday, April 5, 2014

Vanilla Air announces Amami Oshima.

On April 4th, Vanilla Air (JW/VNL) announced that they will launch one-time daily Tokyo/Narita (NRT/RJAA) - Amami (ASJ/RJKA) service on July 1st, making it the first LCC to serve the leisure resort island situated in the Amami Archipelago between Kyushu and Okinawa. Airbus A320s will operate the route. Fares and on-sale dates will be released on April 23rd.
Mostly-white Airbus A320-216(WL) JA02VA parked at Narita. (Photo: Vanilla Air)

JW821 NRT 1030 – 1255 ASJ 32A/320 Daily *July 1st - August 31st.
JW821 NRT 1450 – 1715 ASJ 32A/320 Daily *September 1st - 30th.
JW821 NRT 0815 – 1055 ASJ 32A/320 Daily *September 30th - October 25th.
JW822 ASJ 1410 – 1630 NRT 32A/320 Daily *July 1st - August 31st.
JW822 ASJ 1755 – 2015 NRT 32A/320 Daily *September 1st - 30th.
JW822 ASJ 1130 – 1340 NRT 32A/320 Daily *September 30th - October 25th.

The Government of Japan and the Prefectural Government of Kagoshima together agreed to allocate 2.7 billion JPY under 'Amami Archipelago Promotion Fund' effective April 1st, where financial support will be provided to businesses that help boost economy in the islands, and Vanilla Air's service will also fall under this scheme. Located approximately 380 kilometers (240 miles) south of the southern tip of Kyushu and 250 kilometres (160 miles) north of Okinawa, Amami Oshima (which translates to Amami Big Island) is an island of volcanic origin with a humid subtropical climate. Its coasts are surrounded by coral reefs.

Amami is currently served only by Japan Airlines' (JL/JAL) group; JAL Express (JC/JEX) operates one daily each from Osaka/Itami (ITM/RJOO) and Tokyo/Haneda (HND/RJTT) with Boeing 737-800s, while Japan Air Commuter (3X/JAC) links Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF), Kagoshima (KOJ/RJFK), Kikai (KKX/RJKI), Okinoerabu (OKE/RJKB), Tokunoshima (TKN/RJKN), and Yoron (RNJ/RORY) with Bombardier DHC-8-400Qs and Saab SF340s. Ryukyu Air Commuter (RAC) flies to Okinawa/Naha (OKA/ROAH). Amami is not unfamiliar to lower-cost carriers, however, as Skymark Airlines (BC/SKY) in 2010 and 2011 briefly operated seasonal service to and from Kagoshima, which has not resumed since.

JAL's Haneda service starts from one-way 15,000 JPY and climbs to 47,000 JPY for last-minute regular fares, so Vanilla Air's service will likely trigger another fare war. Owned 100% by All Nippon Airways' (NH/ANA) parent ANA Holdings, the Narita-based LCC has been targeting holiday and resort destinations. Amami will only be their third domestic destination after Naha and Sapporo/New Chitose (CTS/RJCC).

Source: Vanilla Air, April 4th. (in Japanese)

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