Thursday, June 12, 2014

Jetstar Japan launches Kansai hub.

Jetstar Japan (GK/JJP) launched their long-awaited Osaka/Kansai (KIX/RJBB) hub on June 12th with flight GK551, service to Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF), which departed at 0637 JST. The Tokyo/Narita (NRT/RJAA)-based LCC will base up to three Airbus A320s along with 80 pilots, cabin attendants, and maintenance crews at the airport which is home to rival Peach Aviation (MM/APJ).
Airbus A320-232 JA09JJ climbing out of Narita. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Originally planned for launch in October 2012, the Kansai base had been delayed five times due to the shortage of maintenance crews as well as heavy losses when the LCC finally submitted plans to the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) to start the hub from June 3rd (Jetstar Japan to launch Kansai hub from June.). However, simulating coordination with maintenance contractor JAL Engineering (JALEC), a subsidiary of Japan Airlines (JL/JAL), revealed more time necessary, and it was delayed for the sixth time to today (Jetstar Japan delays Kansai hub, cancels 101 flights.).

Jetstar Japan's network from Kansai hub:
Kansai – Fukuoka up to 2 round-trips with 32A/320.
Kansai – Okinawa/Naha (OKA/ROAH) up to 3 round-trips with 32A/320. 
Kansai – Sapporo/New Chitose (CTS/RJCC) up to 2 round-trips with 32A/320.
Kansai – Narita up to 6 round-trips with 32A/320.

Yet, Jetstar Japan becomes the first LCC in the country to reach the milestone of opening a second hub. Peach is expected to follow shortly with a second hub at Naha to be launched on July 19th (Peach announces Naha - Fukuoka.), while Vanilla Air (JW/VNL) still struggles to make their network work from Narita, and the new AirAsia Japan (Mk II) seems to be preparing a hub at Nagoya/Chubu Centrair (NGO/RJGG) (New AirAsia Japan to be based at Nagoya Chubu Centrair.) with launch expected in the first quarter of 2015.

Although initial plans boasted a fleet of 24 aircraft by the end of 2014, the Japanese affiliate of Australia's Jetstar Airways (JQ/JST) has been capping its fleet at 18 A320s, with CEO Miyuki Suzuki confirming "deliveries would be slowed down," and "spread through the next fiscal year." Now that the Kansai hub is up and running, Jetstar Japan will move on to launch international routes sometime during the Winter 2014/2015 schedule. Nothing has been disclosed, however, the planned destinations are "within a four-to-five-hour radius from Narita," according to Mrs. Suzuki.

Jetstar Japan is owned 33.3% by Qantas Airways (QF/QFA), 33.3% by JAL, 16.7% by Mitsubishi, and 16.7% by Century Tokyo Leasing.

Source: Aviation Wire, June 12th. (in Japanese)

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