Sunday, January 24, 2016

Skymark to add nonstop Ibaraki – Okinawa.

On January 21st, Skymark Airlines [BC/SKY] announced that it will add Ibaraki [IBR/RJAH] – Okinawa/Naha [OKA/ROAH] nonstop service effective April 28th. The new service will be operated daily using 177-seat Boeing 737-800s. This becomes the first new route launched by the bankrupt airline (Skymark to file for bankruptcy.) since a revamped management was installed by new owners ANA Holdings, parent of All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA], Integral Corporation, and UDS Airlines Invstment (Skymark relaunched with ANA sponsorship.).

Boeing 737-86N(WL) JA73NX at Narita. Skymark completely withdrew from Narita on October 25th, 2014 (Skymark announces Narita closure and Yonago cuts.) after losing the battle against LCCs. It currently operates 26 737s on 16 nonstop routes which mostly originate from its Haneda hub and focus cities at Kobe and Ibaraki. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

Japan's third largest airline currently offers a one-stop fly-through product between the two cities via Kobe [UKB/RJBE]. Making it nonstop cuts travel time from four to three hours and 15 minutes. It is not the first time Skymark has experimented with the route, having operated nonstop as a seasonal service in 2012 from July 1st to September 30th and again in 2013 from July 1st to October 26th. The last new route was Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] – Naha, which was inaugurated on January 29th, 2015, though it was suspended only two months later.

Flight Schedule:
Ibaraki – Naha NEW 1 daily with 737-800. (Apr/28-)
BC539 IBR 1900 – 2215 OKA 73H/738 Daily
BC530 OKA 0725 – 0955 IBR 73H/738 Daily

Skymark, which designates Ibaraki as a focus city, is the only domestic airline at the airport, flying to Fukuoka [FUK/RJFF], Kobe, and New Chitose, though operations have been downsized during restructuring (Skymark downsizes Ibaraki from September.). Ibaraki is dubbed the third airport serving the Kanto (Greater Tokyo) region, located 80 kilometers northeast of the capital, and the only LCC-friendly one in the region, boasting landing fees 30-40% lower than Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] and Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT].

Once post-deregulation's most successful start-up to challenge the ANA/JAL duopoly, it is now controlled by Integral Corporation, which owns 50.1%, ANA Holdings, with 16.5%, and UDS Airlines Investment, having 33.4%. UDS is a new investment firm jointly owned by Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, both loyal partners of ANA. Code-sharing with ANA, which was planned for Winter 2016/2017, has now been further postponed, as Skymark continues to refuse to adopt ANA's Able-D reservation system. It would enable code-shares but would essentially relegate Skymark to a de facto puppet of ANA, joining the likes of AIRDO [HD/ADO] (d.b.a. Air Do), Solaseed Air [6J/SNJ], and Star Flyer [7G/SFJ]. Skymark strives to remain operationally independent until its planned re-listing in 2020, while ANA wants to keep it under its influence for as long as possible to shut out true competition at bread-and-butter Haneda.

Source: Skymark Airlines, 2016 January 21st. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 January 21st. (in Japanese)
Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, 2016 January 24th. (in Japanese)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

IBEX Airlines announces Nagoya – Miyazaki.

On January 20th, IBEX Airlines [FW/IBX] announced that it will add Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] – Miyazaki [KMI/RJFM] effective March 27th, the beginning of the Summer 2016 schedule. The new service will be operated by 70-seat Bombardier CRJ-700NGs on a daily basis. It is virtually a transfer of one of partner All Nippon Airways' [NH/ANA] current three frequencies, as the new round-trip will code-share with ANA while ANA is axing one flight.

Bombardier CL-600-2C10 CRJ-702NG JA05RJ taxies at Narita. Note the ANA Connection titles. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

The new link, along with their double-daily Chubu Centrair – Oita [OIT/RJFO] route, will be increased to three times daily from August 5th to 22nd, during Japan's Obon (homecoming) period. Meanwhile, the commuter airline will decrease Chubu Centrair – Sendai [SDJ/RJSS] from three to two times daily. Code-share partner ANA will not be adding back any service.

Flight Schedule:
Chubu Centrair – Miyazaki NEW daily with CRJ700. (Mar/27-)
FW031 NGO 0855 – 1010 KMI CR7 Daily *Aug/5-22.
FW033 NGO 1105 – 1220 KMI CR7 Daily
FW035 NGO 1540 – 1655 KMI CR7 Daily *Aug/5-22.
FW032 KMI 1040 – 1155 NGO CR7 Daily *Aug/5-22.
FW034 KMI 1250 – 1405 NGO CR7 Daily
FW036 KMI 1725 – 1840 NGO CR7 Daily *Aug/5-22.

IBEX currently operates seven CRJ-700NGs and two CRJ-200ERs and all flights code-share with ANA under the branding ANA Connection. Their eighth CRJ-700NG will be delivered in June 2016, allowing a 50-seat CRJ-200ER to be retired. IBEX is majority controlled together by software developer Japan Digital Laboratory (JDL), which owns 47.9%, and its President Kazuo Maezawa, which holds another 18.8%.

Source: IBEX Airlines, 2016 January 20th. (in Japanese)
Source: All Nippon Airways, 2016 January 20th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 January 20th. (in Japanese)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Jetstar Japan reveals Manila, downsizes Kumamoto.

On January 19th, Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] announced that it will add Manila/Ninoy Aquino [MNL/RPLL] to its network this spring (Jetstar Japan launches Taipei, next up Manila.), with service from Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] commencing on March 15th, Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] on April 1st, and Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] on April 7th. All flights will be operated by 180-seat Airbus A320-200s. This marks the first time a Japanese LCC lands in the Philippines.

Airbus A320-232(SL) JA19JJ taxies for departure from Narita's Terminal 3, dedicated to LCCs. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

Narita – Manila will initially start off with three weekly round-trips, gradually increasing to up to seven times weekly. Chubu Centrair – Manila will commence with up to seven weekly, and Kansai – Manila with up to four times weekly. Sister Jetstar Asia Airways [3K/JSA] already operates three times weekly on the Kansai – Manila route, and together the Jetstar Group will offer up to seven-times-weekly service. Along with Jetstar Airways [JQ/JST], the three had received antitrust immunity from Japanese authorities to coordinate schedules and prices on routes between Japan and Taiwan and the Philippines last October.

Flight Schedule:
Narita – Manila/Ninoy Aquino NEW up to daily with A320-200.
GK041 NRT 2005 – 0005(+1) MNL 32A/320 Tu/Th/Sa *Mar/15-19.
GK041 NRT 2005 – 0005(+1) MNL 32A/320 Mo/Tu/We/Th/Sa *Mar/20-26.
GK041 NRT 2010 – 0010(+1) MNL 32A/320 Fr *Mar/20-26.
GK041 NRT 2030 – 0005(+1) MNL 32A/320 Tu/Th/Fr/Sa/Su *Mar/27-Apr/3.
GK041 NRT 2030 – 0005(+1) MNL 32A/320 Tu/We/Th/Fr/Sa/Su *Apr/4-28.
GK041 NRT 2030 – 0005(+1) MNL 32A/320 Daily *Apr/29-May/8, Jun/1-30.
GK041 NRT 2030 – 0005(+1) MNL 32A/320 Tu/Th/Fr/Sa/Su *May/9-31.
GK040 MNL 0105 – 0615 NRT 32A/320 We/Fr/Su *Mar/16-20.
GK040 MNL 0105 – 0615 NRT 32A/320 Tu/We/Th/Fr/Sa/Su *Mar/21-27.
GK040 MNL 0105 – 0635 NRT 32A/320 Mo *Mar/28.
GK040 MNL 0105 – 0635 NRT 32A/320 We/Fr *Mar/29-Apr/4.
GK040 MNL 0105 – 0635 NRT 32A/320 We/Th *Apr/5-29.
GK040 MNL 0105 – 0635 NRT 32A/320 We *May/10-Jun/10.
GK040 MNL 0035 – 0605 NRT 32A/320 Mo/Sa/Su *Mar/29-Apr/4.
GK040 MNL 0035 – 0605 NRT 32A/320 Mo/Tu/Sa/Su *Apr/5-29.
GK040 MNL 0035 – 0605 NRT 32A/320 Daily *Apr/30-May/9.
GK040 MNL 0035 – 0605 NRT 32A/320 Mo/Tu/Sa/Su *May/10-Jun/1.
GK040 MNL 0035 – 0605 NRT 32A/320 Daily *Jun/2-Jul/1.

Chubu Centrair – Manila/Ninoy Aquino NEW up to daily with A320-200.
GK095 NGO 2030 – 2335 MNL 32A/320 Fr/Sa/Su *Apr/1-3.
GK095 NGO 2030 – 2335 MNL 32A/320 Mo/Fr/Sa/Su *Apr/4-28, May/9-31.
GK095 NGO 2030 – 2335 MNL 32A/320 Daily *Apr/29-May/8, Jun/1-30.
GK094 MNL 0105 – 0555 NGO 32A/320 Mo/Sa/Su *Apr/2-4.
GK094 MNL 0105 – 0555 NGO 32A/320 Mo/Fr/Sa/Su *Apr/5-29, May/10-Jun/1.
GK094 MNL 0105 – 0555 NGO 32A/320 Daily *Apr/30-May/9, Jun/2-Jul/1.

Kansai – Manila/Ninoy Aquino NEW up to 4 weekly with A320-200.
GK081 KIX 2030 – 2335 MNL 32A/320 Tu/We/Th/Fr *Apr/7-28, Jun/1-30.
GK081 KIX 2030 – 2335 MNL 32A/320 Tu/Th *Apr/29-May/31.
GK080 MNL 0035 – 0530 KIX 32A/320 We/Th/Fr/Sa *Apr/8-29, Jun/2-Jul/1.
GK080 MNL 0035 – 0530 KIX 32A/320 We/Fr *Apr/30-Jun/1.

All flights leave Japan in the evening, arriving in the Philippines past midnight, and make a red-eye departure for an early-morning return back to Japan. Tickets went on sale at 1600 JST today, and promotional fares are offered for all three new routes starting from one-way 990 JPY, excluding tax and fuel surcharges. The promotion is limited to 2,000 seats, and are only available for 26 hours. Normal one-way fares start from 9,000 JPY for Narita – Manila and Chubu Centrair – Manila and 8,500 JPY for Kansai – Manila, both excluding tax and fuel surcharges.

Narita – Manila is currently served by All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] (daily), Cebu Air [5J/CEB] (d.b.a. Cebu Pacific Air) (daily), Japan Airlines [JL/JAL] (x2 daily), Delta Air Lines [DL/DAL] (daily), and Philippine Airlines [PR/PAL] (x2 daily), while Chubu Centrair – Manila sees Cebu Pacific (x4 weekly) and Philippine Airlines (daily) and Kansai – Manila has Cebu Pacific (x5 weekly), Jetstar Asia (x3 weekly), and Philippine Airlines (daily). Zest Airways [Z2/EZD] (d.b.a. AirAsia Zest) is preparing to enter the Philippines – Japan market during the second half of 2016.

Meanwhile, on January 15th, Jetstar Japan had disclosed that it would axe Kansai – Kumamoto [KMJ/RJFT] effective March 27th, the beginning of the Summer 2016 timetable. It was initially launched on October 26th, 2014 with two round-trips per day (Jetstar Japan starts three routes from Kumamoto.), but later reduced to daily. Recent load factors have reportedly hovered around 50-60%. It becomes the third route suspended by the growing LCC after Chubu Centrair – Kumamoto and Kansai – Oita [OIT/RJFO] (Jetstar Japan cuts Nagoya – Kumamoto and Kansai – Oita.).

Source: Jetstar Japan, 2016 January 15th. (in Japanese)
Source: Jetstar Japan, 2016 January 19th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 January 19th. (in Japanese)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Air Do retires the Boeing 737-500.

On January 12th, AIRDO [HD/ADO] (d.b.a. Air Do) officially (but quietly) retired the Boeing 737-500. The last revenue flights were a round-trip from Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] to Memanbetsu [MMB/RJCM] and back, operated by their ultimate aircraft 737-54K JA8595. It remained in the fleet as back-up equipment for three more days. The penultimate aircraft was 737-54K JA300K, which was retired on January 4th. Their 737-500s seated 126.

Boeing 737-54K JA8595 became the last remaining example. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Flight HD077 departed Haneda at 1115 JST and arrived at Memanbetsu at 1255, and return leg HD078 left the northeastern Hokkaido city at 1339 and arrived back at Tokyo's downtown airport at 1535. No farewell ceremonies were held, and Air Do has said the aircraft remaining as a back-up equipment as the reason not having any. However, all 737-500s, including this airframe, are being returned to service with All Nippon Airways' [NH/ANA] commuter arm ANA Wings [EH/AKX], subsidiary of Air Do's 14% shareholder ANA Holdings, and they likely preferred to avoid embarrassing its de facto parent.

Boeing 737-54K JA305K Bear Do Dream was retired on November 30th, 2014. (Photo: Air Do)

The 737 Classics are being replaced by Next-Generation 737s supplied by ANA. In December, the Hokkaido-based airline took delivery of their eighth 737-700 on lease from ANA, and the ninth is due from the same source shortly. 737-781(WL) JA16AN became Air Do's eighth of the type, while 737-781(WL) JA14AN will become their ninth. The newer 737-700s seat 144. The longer-range capability of the replacements is allowing Air Do to experiment with international charters (Air Do loads first international charter to Taipei.).

Boeing 737-54K JA8196 Bear Do was retired on March 14th, 2014. (Photo: Air Do)

The 737-500 entered service with Air Do on January 31st, 2008. Two special liveries adorned the type; 737-54K JA8196 Bear Do and 737-54K JA305K Bear Do Dream. They were retired on March 14th, 2014 (Air Do retires 'Bear Do'; five Boeing 737-500s remain.) and November 30th, 2014 (Air Do bids farewell to Bear Do Dream.), respectively. This completes their fleet transition program which started in October 2012. Air Do's fleet is now comprised of two 767-300ERs, two 767-300s, and eight 737-700s, with their ninth joining shortly.

Source: Air Do @ Facebook.
Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 January 9th. (in Japanese)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Vanilla Air to add Kansai – Taipei in Summer 2016.

Vanilla Air [JW/VNL] will commence Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] – Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] sometime during the Summer 2016 schedule, which comes into effect on March 27th. Kansai becomes the fledgling LCCs fourth destination in Japan, but the first not originating from or arriving into Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA], where it is based and all flights currently depart from. It has already started hiring ground staff, and descriptions say Chinese fluency is welcomed and initial work would be in the early hours after midnight.

Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01VA takes off from Narita. Vanilla Air's fleet had been capped at eight since FY2014, however, it is now posed for expansion in FY2016 with up to five aircraft to be added. (Photo: Vanilla Air)

The ANA Holdings' 100% subsidiary LCC currently flies four round-trips between Narita and Taiwan's capital. Its fourth flight out of Narita arrives into Taipei right past midnight, and sits on the ground for approximately six hours until its flight back to Narita, and Vanilla is expected to squeeze a Taipei – Kansai round-trip in that time frame. This is how sister LCC Peach Aviation [MM/APJ], minority owned by ANA, flies into Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] from Taipei (Peach Aviation inaugurates Haneda – Taipei.) and soon Seoul (Peach Aviation announces Haneda – Seoul.) during the early hours without having to base aircraft there.

Vanilla initially planned to add two Airbus A320s during FY2015, however, that was put on hold with ANA Holdings President Shinya Katanozaka also saying achieving its first full year of profit for FY2015 needed come first (Vanilla Air launches Kaohsiung but slows expansion.). But now with brand recognition gradually but firmly increasing and load factors showing significant improvements, the Narita-based LCC intends to add up to five A320s during FY2016 for expansion. President Tomonori Ishii has said China, Micronesia, Philippines were on their radar, though they view time is still not right to resume South Korea, which it axed in March 2015 (Vanilla Air to suspend Seoul.).

Vanilla's arrival in Kansai means encroaching into the stronghold of Peach, which already flies three round-trips on the Kansai – Taipei route. But for now with Vanilla opting for a red-eye flight for Kansai and Peach using that time to fly Taipei Haneda instead, the two are effectively avoiding direct competition. However, as their respective network and frequencies grow, overlap would eventually become inevitable, and it would be interesting to see how ANA manages the two LCCs, with one only minority-owned (yet still significant) and relatively independent.

 Source: MyNavi, 2015 December 25th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 January 7th. (in Japanese)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fuji Dream mulls Chubu – Narita and international charters.

Fuji Dream Airlines [JH/FDA] will reportedly launch a base at Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] by 2017 (Fuji Dream plans Izumo, Kitakyushu, and Chubu Centrair.) and start international charters along with Chubu Centrair – Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA], according to an interview by Chunichi Shimbun with President Yohei Suzuki. The niche regional carrier currently operates only domestic routes from its hubs at Nagoya/Komaki [NKM/RJNA], Chubu (Greater Nagoya) region's older but convenient airport near downtown, and Shizuoka [FSZ/RJNS], where it is headquartered.

Embraer ERJ170-200/STD JA08FJ Tea Green at Aomori, moments before rotation. Fuji Dream plans a fleet of a dozen E-Jets by 2018, though the Mitsubishi Regional Jet is currently being evaluated as a replacement in the long-term. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

FDA flies nine aircraft, comprised of six 84-seat Embraer ERJ170-200/STD (E175) and three 76-seat ERJ170-100 (E170), with the next E175 arriving in March 2016 and another coming one year later (Fuji Dream orders up to six more Embraer E175s.). All of its aircraft either return to Komaki or Shizuoka for the night, as most of the airports it serves have curfews, and FDA intends to take advantage of Chubu Centrair's 24-hour operation to experiment late-night or early-morning international charters to China, South Korea, and Taiwan. Other open-around-the-clock airports such as Kitakyushu [KKJ/RJFR] and Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] are also being considered as points of origin.

The Shizuoka-based airline also plans to add Chubu Centair – Narita in the daytime to cater to international connecting passengers, and they are reportedly talking with European and North American airlines (non-Star, non-Oneworld?) for a code-sharing agreement. Meanwhile, it will maintain its domestic network from Komaki, which currently boasts nine destinations including Aomori [AOJ/RJSA], Fukuoka [FUK/RJFF], Hanamaki [HNA/RJSI], Izumo [IZO/RJOC] (Fuji Dream launches Izumo and Kitakyushu.), Kochi [KCZ/RJOK], Kitakyushu, Kumamoto [KMJ/RJFT], Niigata [KIJ/RJSN], and Yamagata [GAJ/RJSC].

FDA has largely been able to gain popularity due to it being the sole carrier at Nagoya's preferred airport near downtown, where it essentially filled the void left by J-Air [XM/JLJ], which withdrew in March 2011. However, their upcoming 10th aircraft cannot be based at Komaki due to limited parking space, and further expansion at Komaki would come against the Aichi Government and local companies' desire to consolidate all flights at Chubu Centrair. A gentleman's agreement also prohibits flights over 1,000 kilometers from Komaki.

But for FDA, moving its entire operation to Chubu Centrair would not only mean it would lose Komaki's proximity advantage, but also suddenly put itself in competition with the plethora of LCCs adding services at Nagoya's premier international gateway. Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] flies both domestic and international routes (Jetstar Japan adds Nagoya and Kansai to Taipei.), while the second AirAsia Japan [DJ] is starting services in April with a hub at Chubu Centrair (New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.). Overseas LCCs include Spring Airlines [9C/CQH] and V Air [ZV/VAX], while Tigerair Taiwan [IT/TTW] plans to start on January 29th. So for now, FDA's answer to Nagoya is a split hub.

Source: Chunichi Shimbun, 2015 December 23rd. (in Japanese)