Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fuji Dream starts Okadama summer charter.

On June 28th, Fuji Dream Airlines (JH/FDA) launched summer charter service between Nagoya/Komaki (NKM/RJNA) and Sapporo/Okadama (OKD/RJCO). It will be operated every Saturday until September 20th, and will fly round-trip except for today and the last day. Hankyu Travel International is chartering the aircraft to transport participants of their Hokkaido and Sakhalin in 8 Days cruising tour from Nagoya to Japan's big island in the north, and therefore the flights are not offered for sale.
Embraer ERJ170-100STD (E170) JA04FJ Green at Fukuoka. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

The flight is operated by Embraer ERJ170-100STDs (E170) and JA02FJ Light Blue was assigned for the inaugural today. After arrival at Okadama, Sapporo's compact airport nearer to downtown than its big sister Sapporo/New Chitose (CTS/RJCC), participants are bused to Otaru to board Princess Cruises' Sun Princess for an eight-day cruise through Hakodate, Muroran, Kushiro, Abashiri, Karapto (Sakhalin in Russian), and back to Otaru.

Flight schedule (June 28th - September 20th):
JH5313 NKM 1125 – 1305 OKD E70 Sat *Does not operate on Sep/20.
JH5314 OKD 1520 – 1710 NKM E70 Sat *Does not operate on Jun/28.

FDA had been carrying out various tests at Okadama, some involving actual aircraft to check the E170's landing and takeoff performance with the 1,500-meter runway and measure noise footprint; a round-trip test flight was carried out on July 7th, 2013, followed by a one-time charter flight with actual passengers on board on November 16th. Noise pollution along with various other data will be collected during July and August this year as well.

Hokkaido and Sapporo's officials have had the idea of extending Okadama's runway to 1,800 meters to accommodate scheduled jet flights, however, locals have so far been opposed to it, citing noise issues and a possible subsequent increase of Japan Self Defense Force (JASDF) activity. FDA President Yohei Suzuki believes "Sapporo can support a dual airport strategy with two respective roles."

FDA is dramatically increasing the share of charter flights this year (Fuji Dream Airlines to fly charters to Oki and from Izumo.) (FDA plans charters to Aomori, Hokkaido, and Okinawa.), made possible with the arrival of their eighth aircraft (Fuji Dream Airlines receives eighth E-Jet 'Tea Green'.), in bid to explore niche markets and avoid head-to-head competition. Hokkaido has been their primary focus so far, with 98 charter flights connecting Wakkanai (WKJ/RJCW), the northernmost tip of Hokkaido, with Komaki, Matsumoto (MMJ/RJAF), Niigata (KIJ/RJSN), and Shizuoka (FSZ/RJNS) as well this summer, in addition to the Okadama charter.

Although FDA is the sole carrier at Nagoya's older airport 20 minutes by bus from central Nagoya, they compete on some overlapping routes from Nagoya/Chubu Centrair (NGO/RJGG), now reduced to a 30-minute express-train ride from Nagoya Station. The Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF) route is fiercest; FDA flies five round-trips (code-sharing with Japan Airlines), while All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA) operates six daily, Star Flyer (7G/SFJ) three daily (Star Flyer to add ANA's code on all flights.), IBEX Airlines (FW/IBX) once daily (code-sharing with ANA), and Jetstar Japan (GK/JJP) once daily. Growing LCCs also pose a threat, with Jetstar Japan willing to expand and AirAsia Japan (Mk II) expected to launch from Chubu Centrair (New AirAsia Japan to be based at Nagoya Chubu Centrair.) in 2015.

Reference: City of Sapporo, June 24th. (PDF; in Japanese)
Reference: FlyTeam, June 25th (in Japanese)

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