Link Airs announced (12-Jul-2013) it has applied with Japan MLIT for its air operator’s certificate. The start-up plans to commence operations from spring 2014, operating with two ATR 72-600 aircraft initially on services from Fukuoka and Kitakyushu including five times daily Fukuoka-Miyazaki, three times daily Fukuoka-Matsuyama and twice daily Kitakyushu-Matsuyama services. The carrier expects to take delivery of its third ATR aircraft one month after its inaugural operation, with plans to use the additional aircraft to increase Fukuoka-Miyazaki frequency and launch Kitakyushu-Miyazaki service. [more - original PR - Japanese]
Link Airs applies for AOC, launch in spring 2014 from Kitakyushu and Fukuoka
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As CAPA's LCCs and New Age Airlines Sep-2013 conference in Seoul clearly identified, the wheels are starting to turn in Korea, the home of the first LCCs in North Asia. But more recently it has suffered from stagnation as carriers do not offer a cost base that is competitive with other LCC developments in the region. Jin Air is the country's second largest LCC and wholly-owned by Korean Air. This brings advantages but also disadvantages, as CEO Won Ma said at the CAPA conference. Mr Ma sees that Jin Air needs to improve its cost base and has started to charge for small ancillaries, but not luggage. Jin Air also incurs higher costs from using some Korean Air services.
2012 was Jin Air's third year of profits, which were very respectable given the industry but lagging considering Jin Air's modest network, with limited competition. But the Jin Air-Korean Air relationship is far ahead of Asiana and its partially-owned LCC unit Air Busan, struggling to remain relevant up against Jin Air and the the even larger Jeju Air, Korea's largest independent LCC. If Jin Air, like other LCCs, can make very necessary cost structure reforms, there are increasing opportunities as the Korean outbound market grows, thanks to the strengthening of the won. It is time now more than ever to apply more pressure on the accelerator.
Skymark Airlines offers all-premium A330s on domestic routes. It could only work in Japan?
Few airlines have made all-premium cabins work, with the list of withdrawals ranging from fly-by-night operators to Singapore Airlines' withdrawal from its non-stop A340-500 New York and LA services. But Japan’s third-largest airline, Skymark, is looking to buck the trend by using all-premium A330-300s on trunk routes in the domestic Japanese market. Skymark only operates domestically at present, although regional and long-haul destinations are on the cards.
The plan is not as foolhardy as history suggests. In fact, Skymark Airlines may have one of the best chances of succeeding in the all-premium space. “All-premium” has generally meant business class, for most of the attempts have been in this cabin. But Skymark is effectively planning an all-premium economy cabin, seating 271 in an A330-300, compared to 116 that Hainan Airlines tried on A330-200s and only 100 on Singapore Airlines’ A340-500s. Skymark wants to differentiate itself in the high yield domestic market from ANA and JAL, which have cramped domestic cabins (despite averaging below 70% load factors).
Combined with Skymark’s significantly lower operating cost, its proposition may find healthy traction.