Japan’s new Zipair airline begins flights despite change of plans

Melv L, CC BY-SA 2.0

Zipair, a new airline based in Japan, has begun flight operations, launching the first flight from Narita, Japan, to Bangkok, Thailand. The flight ZG51 was originally due to carry up to 290 passengers. Instead, its first and only Boeing 787 Dreamliner took off carrying only cargo load, as the newcomer air carrier had to switch plans for freight operations amid the global COVID-19 outbreak. 

Zipair’s change on plans

Following a three-weeks delay, Zipair inaugural flight ZG51 finally took off from Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT), Japan, on June 3, 2020. The airline’s Boeing 787-8 aircraft, registration  code JA822J, delivered 13 tons of cargo to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to Thailand. The return flight, carrying 17 tons of cargo, departed from Bangkok on the same day. 

Initially, Zipair planned to operate passenger service by launching a daily round trip between Japan and Thailand on May 14, 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus infection spread and its global impact, the airline postponed the plans and will operate four weekly cargo-only flights for now.

Introducing Japan’s newest low cost carrier

Zipair is a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan Airlines. Established in 2018, it is a low cost carrier, which is due to operate medium to long-haul international flights. 

The carrier currently has two aircraft, Boeing 787-8s, transferred from its parent’s fleet. The Dreamliners seat 290 in a two-class configuration: 272 in economy and 18 in business class. 

On July 1, 2020, the airline is scheduled to open the second passenger route from Narita to Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN), South Korea. However, due to the current situation the plans are likely to change as well. 

Following the opening of the first flights in Asia, the airline plans to expand service to the United States, in particular to Hawaii and the West Coast. While it is still awaiting approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Narita-Honolulu route was previously aimed to launch for the 2020 winter season. 

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