Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Peach confirms Narita hub; adds Fukuoka and Sapporo.

Peach Aviation [MM/APJ] has officially designated Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] its third hub (Peach plans Narita hub and Haneda – Taipei.) with new routes to Fukuoka [FUK/RJFF] and Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] to be launched on March 29th, the beginning of the Summer 2015 timetable. Already running hubs at Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] and Okinawa/Naha [OKA/ROAH] (Peach launches Naha hub; but Naha – Ishigaki axed.), the growing LCC will use Narita to serve the huge metropolitan Kanto (Greater Tokyo) market.

Airbus A320-214 JA802P prepares for departure from Fukuoka. Peach currently operates 14 A320s, with their 15th due in March. One each will arrive in July and November, respectively, for a total of 17 by year-end 2015. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

The Kansai-headquartered carrier will open up double-daily flights to Kyushu's biggest city and a daily round-trip to the capital of Hokkaido in the north using 180-seat Airbus A320s. Peach already operates a three-times-daily service on Kansai – Narita. In its announcement, the so far most successful Japanese LCC confirmed that additional flights and destinations would be added in due course.

Flight Schedule:
Narita – Fukuoka NEW 2 daily with A320-200. (Mar/29 - Oct/24)
MM523 NRT 0900 – 1105 FUK 320 Daily
MM525 NRT 1330 – 1535 FUK 320 Daily
MM524 FUK 1220 – 1410 NRT 320 Daily
MM526 FUK 1610 – 1800 NRT 320 Daily 

Narita – New Chitose NEW 1 daily with A320-200. (Mar/29 - Oct/24)
MM585 NRT 1455 – 1640 CTS 320 Daily
MM582 CTS 0935 – 1110 NRT 320 Daily

Peach is engaging itself in a new round of battle, or a retaliation, against Narita-based rival Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP], which opened their second hub at Kansai, Peach's home base, in June 2014 (Jetstar Japan launches Kansai hub.). Smaller LCC Vanilla Air [JW/VNL], a wholly-owned subsidiary of ANA Holdings, which also controls 38.67% of Peach, is also based at Narita. The Chiba airport thus becomes Japan's first to become a hub of all four LCCs, though Peach has opted against moving into Narita's new LCC Terminal, dubbed Terminal 3, which is slated to open on April 8th.

Peach's network as of March 29th, 2015. Narita will become their third hub after Kansai and Naha. (Image: Peach)

Meanwhile, the Narita – New Chitose route would be the first to see competition from three LCCs along with majors All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] and Japan Airlines [JL/JAL]; for the Summer 2015 schedule, Vanilla Air will operate up to eight round-trips and Jetstar Japan up to seven, while ANA and JAL will fly two and one, respectively. Narita – Fukuoka is served by Jetstar Japan up to seven times daily, ANA double-daily, and JAL with a single round-trip. Vanilla Air does not fly to the Kyushu airport, though predecessor AirAsia Japan (Mk I) [JW/WAJ] used to (CoachFlyer JW8541: NRT - FUK on AirAsia Japan's Airbus A320.).

In December 2014, CEO Shinichi Inoue revealed that the carrier was considering opening hubs in Sapporo and Tokyo, as well as Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Seoul. Their second hub at Naha was only opened last July, and Hong Kong is the next route to be launched on February 21st (Peach announces Okinawa – Hong Kong.), making it the fourth spoke from their Ryukyu base. They are also considering launching Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] – Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] (Peach plans Narita hub and Haneda – Taipei.) as early as July using the downtown airport's under-utilized midnight slots.

It will be interesting to see how Peach will compete (or not so) with Vanilla Air, whose President Tomonori Ishii had previously said that it wants to avoid competing with its Kansai-based sister. However, while Mr. Ishii's airline is wholly-owned by ANA Holdings, Mr. Inoue's is only minority owned, giving Peach more independence and flexibility. Both ANA and Peach have confirmed that firewall protects information from being shared between the two, and many of the employees see each other as rivals.

Source: Peach Aviation, February 10th. (in Japanese) 
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, February 10th. (in Japanese)

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