Japanese long-haul low cost carrier startup ZIPAIR sees challenges on the horizon, but it continues to push forward with its plans to launch service this year. The carrier filed its application with the US Department of Transportation this week seeking permission to launch service between its Tokyo hub and Honolulu later this Fall.
The carrier initially planned to launch service in mid-May, connecting Tokyo and Bangkok, Thailand. That operation is delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions. A new inaugural service launch date has not yet been scheduled. But the carrier still expects to begin service on its second route between Tokyo and Seoul, South Korea 1 July 2020. Its third route will be between Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) using Boeing 787-8 aircraft between beginning around the start of the IATA winter 2020 season. That season shift occurs at the end of October.
In addition to the Honolulu service ZIPAIR intends to expand its operations to other US destinations, according to the filing. The carrier did not provide further details on where those flights might operate nor a timeline for when they would launch. Portland, Oregon (PDX) has been rumored as a potential destination for the carrier.
In the application ZIPAIR notes its fleet will launch with two aircraft (JA822J, JA825J). It expects to add two more per year from its parent Japan Airlines for the near term as it expands its network. The 290-seat configuration offers the basics in both business class and economy, but not much more than that.
The airline also notes that, while it will depend on JAL for maintenance and as a funding backstop for the operations, it will not take advantage of JAL’s alliance, joint venture, codeshare and other cooperative arrangements with US and other foreign carriers.
Despite the economic uncertainty around launching transpacific services later this year there is no reason to expect any troubles with this application. It is mostly a formality for the carrier and should be approved in due course.
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