Thursday, April 28, 2016

Vanilla Air adds Kansai – Taipei, plans SE Asia in 4Q2016.

On April 27th, Vanilla Air [JW/VNL] inaugurated Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] – Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] (Vanilla Air announces Kansai – Taipei.). The new daily red-eye service is actually a spoke from Taiwan's capital, making Osaka's premier gateway the fledgling LCCs fourth destination in Japan, but the first not linking with their hub at Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA]. All flights are operated by 180-seat Airbus A320-200s.

Airbus A320-214(SL) JA05VA at Kansai waiting for her inaugural outbound flight to Taipei. Vanilla Air received its ninth A320 on April 22nd, and will receive two more during FY2016. The three aircraft are leased from BOC Aviation to ANA, which sub-leases them to Vanilla. Its fleet is projected to reach 25 by FY2020. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The aircraft for Taipei – Kansai arrives into Taipei as the last flight of the day from Narita just past midnight, and turns around for the inbound flight to Kansai. After a brief 60-minute stay, it departs for Taipei as the outbound flight from Kansai, in time for the first flight of the day from Taipei back to Narita. One-way fares start from 6,490 JPY for a ticket with no baggage allowance (Simple Vanilla) and 9,490 JPY for an inclusive ticket with 20 kilograms of baggage allowance plus free seat selection (Komi-komi Vanilla).

Flight Schedule:
Kansai – Taipei/Taoyuan NEW daily with A320-200.
JW178 TPE 2150 – 0135(+1) KIX 32A/320 Daily *Apr/27 - Sep/13.
JW178 TPE 2235 – 0220(+1) KIX 32A/320 Daily *Sep/13 - Oct/29.
JW179 KIX 0235 – 0430 TPE 32A/320 Daily *Apr/28 - Sep/14.
JW179 KIX 0315 – 0510 TPE 32A/320 Daily *Sep/14 - Oct/30.

Maiden inbound flight JW178 departed Taipei at 2145 CST, five minutes before published time, with a load of 114 passengers, and arrived at Kansai at 0112 JST, 23 minutes before schedule, on April 28th. Meanwhile, the first outbound flight JW179 blocked out from Kansai at 0233 JST, two minutes early, carrying 120 passengers, and arrived at Taoyuan Airport at 0440 CST, 10 minutes behind schedule. A320-214(SL) JA05VA was assigned to both flights.

A second round-trip is already being considered, which would put them in direct competition against part-sister Peach Aviation [MM/APJ]. Kansai – Taipei now boasts LCCs Jetstar Asia Airways [3K/JSA], Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] (Jetstar Japan adds Nagoya and Kansai to Taipei.), homegrown Peach, Tigerair Taiwan [IT/TTW], and V Air [ZV/VAX], alongside legacy carriers Cathay Pacific Airways [CX/CPA], China Airlines [CI/CAL], EVA Air [BR/EVA], Japan Airlines [JL/JAL], and TransAsia Airways [GE/TNA]. Philippine Airlines [PR/PAL] is preparing to enter on June 25th as the 12th airline, making it the route with the most carriers in the world.

Vanilla Air has opened a reservations center in Taipei, and the new service is part of their strategy to make Taoyuan Airport its second hub, and their first outside Japan (Vanilla Air eyes China, Southeast Asia, and Okinawa hub.). From Taipei, it currently flies to Narita four times daily, and plans are underway to add Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam using fifth freedom rights, as well as Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC]. "We hope to launch our first city in Southeast Asia by year-end. We've already decided which city, but we can't disclose that yet," said Katsuya Goto, Vanilla's new President from April 1st. It will coincide with the delivery of their 10th A320 this autumn.

"Together with Kaohsiung (Vanilla Air launches Kaohsiung but slows expansion.), the Taiwan market generates roughly 50-60% of our revenue, and 70-80% of our customers are Taiwanese," said Chairman Tomonori Ishii, who was promoted from President effective April 1st, adding "So Taiwan-originating travelers will probably make up most of our customer base for our first flights to Southeast Asia, but as we grow our network, we believe the Japanese will come along as well." In preparation for their Taipei hub, Vanilla has started offering a fly-through product, for now only available through Narita, which guarantees connections between their flights. An interline agreement with a LCC in Southeast Asia is also being considered.

The Narita-based LCC is expected to announce its first full-year profit for FY2015, which ended on March 31st. Vanilla Air is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ANA Holdings, parent of All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA].

Source: Toyo Keizai, 2016 April 9th. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Business, 2016 April 15th. (in Japanese)
Source: Traicy, 2016 April 28th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 April 28th. (in Japanese)
Source: MyNavi, 2016 April 28th. (in Japanese)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Fuji Dream Airlines announces Shizuoka – Okadama.

On April 11th, Fuji Dream Airlines [JH/FDA] announced that they will launch Shizuoka [FSZ/RJNS] – Sapporo/Okadama [OKD/RJCO] on June 4th. The route will initially operate two days a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays using either 76-seat Embraer ERJ170-100s (E170s) or 84-seat ERJ170-200s (E175s). It will supplement the Shizuoka-headquartered niche carrier's existing five-times-weekly Shizuoka – Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] service. Although not yet announced, the new link will likely code-share with partner Japan Airlines [JL/JAL].

Embraer ERJ170-200/STD (E175) JA05FJ arrives into snowy Aomori. Fuji Dream's fleet is comprised of seven E175s and three smaller E170s, with four more of the former on order. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet is currently being evaluated as a long-term replacement for the current E-Jets. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

Fuji Dream has operated various charters from Okadama since carrying out flight testing in July 2013 to check the E170's landing and takeoff performance with the 1,500-meter runway and measure its noise footprint (Fuji Dream starts Okadama summer charter.). Hence launching scheduled flights to and from Okadama had been seen as a matter of time. It received its 10th E-Jet last month and the new service matches the arrival of their 11th in June (Fuji Dream Airlines' tenth Embraer E-Jet is Silver.).

Flight Schedule:
Shizuoka – Okadama NEW 2 weekly with E170/175. (Jun/4-)
JH173 FSZ 1130 – 1315 OKD E70 Tue/Sat
JH174 OKD 1345 – 1535 FSZ E70 Tue/Sat

Fuji Dream's entry into Okadama with a frequency supplementing their service to New Chitose along with identical times shows how it is largely an experiment to see which of the airports passengers actually prefer, and whether there are prospects it could replicate how it successfully created a hub at Nagoya/Komaki [NKM/RJNA], the Chubu (Greater Nagoya) region's older but preferred airport located closer to downtown, which was largely replaced by Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG]. President Yohei Suzuki had said "Sapporo can support a dual airport strategy with two respective roles."

Local regional airline Hokkaido Air System [HC/NTH], which was made a subsidiary of JAL once again in October 2014 (JAL raises Hokkaido Air System stake to 51%.), is based at Okadama and is the only scheduled carrier using the airport. Although much smaller than its bigger sister New Chitose, which is located 40 kilometers away from the Hokkaido capital, Okadama is compact and is only six kilometers from downtown Sapporo. Its proximity has been less felt as travel to New Chitose from center city has efficiently been reduced to a 40-minute train ride, while reaching Okadama requires transferring from subway to bus resulting in a 25-minute travel time from Sapporo Station.

As major airports become crowded, Fuji Dream is striving to be a niche carrier flying into smaller but more convenient secondary airports of major cities, taking advantage of smaller E-Jets. Launching a hub at Chubu Centrair is still being evaluated, as parking space at Komaki becomes scarce (Fuji Dream mulls Chubu – Narita and international charters.), but that may be risky as the larger airport serving the Chubu region is well-served by All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] and a growing number of LCCs, including AirAsia Japan (Mk II) [DJ], which is launching with a hub there this summer (New AirAsia Japan delays service entry to July 2016.). Proposed Komaki – Okadama could bear fruit if Shizuoka – Okadama proves successful and an agreement could be reached with partner JAL, which already operates Chubu Centrair – New Chitose.   

Source: Fuji Dream Airlines, 2016 April 11th. (in Japanese)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Jetstar Japan starts Nagoya and Kansai to Manila.

Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] commenced Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] – Manila/Ninoy Aquino [MNL/RPLL] on April 1st, followed by Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] – Manila on April 7th (Jetstar Japan reveals Manila, downsizes Kumamoto.). Japan's now largest LCC had only added the Filipino capital on March 15th with service from Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] (Jetstar Japan launches Narita – Manila.). All flights are operated by 180-seat Airbus A320-200s.

Airbus A320-232(SL) JA12JJ prepares for another flight at Narita. Jetstar Japan has capped its fleet at 20 since December 2014 and growth has been achieved by increasing aircraft utilization. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

Chubu Centrair – Manila started with four weekly flights, which increases to seven weekly during peak travel periods. Kansai – Manila launched with up to four times weekly, however, 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 carriers had received antitrust immunity from Japanese authorities to coordinate schedules and prices on routes between Japan and Taiwan and the Philippines last October.

The inaugural flight from Chubu Centrair on April 1st departed at 2047 JST, 17 minutes behind schedule, with a load of 179 passengers, including five children. A320-232(SL) JA11JJ was assigned. Meanwhile, the first revenue flight from Kansai on April 7th departed at 2048 JST, 18 minutes behind schedule, carrying 169 passengers. It was operated by A320-232 JA04JJ.

Flight Schedule:
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.

"Manila is an important city as we expand internationally," said Chairman Masaru Kataoka at Chubu Centrair on the inaugural day, adding "The Chubu (Greater Nagoya) region's Filipino population is big, and there is significant demand for VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) travel, something we LCCs are good at catering to and expanding." Mr. Kataoka also said "It may not be common to see airlines launching a destination with three routes at the same time, but that would enable us to leverage synergies and we have a single strategy for the three routes altogether."

Manila becomes Jetstar Japan's second overseas destination from Chubu Centrair after Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] (Jetstar Japan adds Nagoya and Kansai to Taipei.), and the third from Kansai after Hong Kong [HKG/VHHH] (Jetstar Japan goes international with Kansai – Hong Kong.) and Taipei. Chubu Centrair – Manila sees Cebu Air [5J/CEB] (d.b.a. Cebu Pacific Air) flying four times weekly and Philippine Airlines [PR/PAL] daily, while Kansai – Manila has Cebu Pacific operating five times weekly, Jetstar Asia three times weekly, and Philippine Airlines daily. Zest Airways [Z2/EZD] (d.b.a. Philippines AirAsia) is preparing to enter the Philippines – Japan market during the second half of this year.

Source: Travel Watch, 2016 April 1st. (in Japanese)
Source: Chunichi Shimbun, 2016 April 2nd. (in Japanese)
Source: Flight Liner, 2016 April 8th. (in Japanese)