AS demand for budget air travel continues to grow in Asia, one Asian airline is set to roll out a new low-cost carrier (LCC).
Helmed by Japan’s flag carrier, Japan Airlines (JAL), ZIPAIR Tokyo will connect Narita International Airport near Tokyo with Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and Seoul’s Incheon International Airport next year.
Currently, JAL operates a mixture of narrow-body and wide-body aircraft. The company also operates the short-haul low-cost Jetstar Japan joint venture with Australia’s Qantas Airways.
The airline provides economy class service on all routes; business class service with larger seats in the cabin front on most major domestic routes; premium economy on some international routes; business class on most long-haul and some short-haul international routes; and first class on some long-haul and domestic routes.
But with ZIPAIR Tokyo, JAL is hoping to compete against domestic rival ANA Holdings Inc’s budget arm Peach as well as the like of AirAsia X and Scoot.
“ZIP” was chosen to describe speed, “such as how fast time can pass when traveling on a unique airline,” according to JAL. It also incorporates the idea of traveling to various zip codes.
The word Tokyo as added because “the airline will be based in one of the most advanced cities in the world”.
ZIPAIR Tokyo will offer medium to long-haul flights first before eventually offering trans-Pacific and European flights.
It will start operating with two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners in the summer of 2020, but JAL president Shingo Nishida said the company plans to add two Boeing 787-8s to the fleet each year.
Nishida also unveiled the logo of the new airline and the branding which will go with it, with tones of “harmony gray” and “trust green” to represent balance and satisfaction with the cost of services and to provide a sense of safety.
JAL is expecting to have ZIPAIR Tokyo up and running just in time for the highly anticipated 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Meanwhile, JAL has also recently pledged its support for Boom, a US-based startup company developing a supersonic jet which is poised to be the fastest civil aircraft ever built. Named Overture, the Mach 2.2 plane is expected to fly faster than the speed of sound – which is why it has been hailed as “a new area of air travel.”
JAL’s investment of USD10 million allowed the airline to pre-order up to 20 units of the aircraft, which is capable of seating up to 55 passengers each.