As the COVID-19 epidemic continues to spread, Japan’s newest low-cost airline, ZIPAIR, finally made its first passenger flight on October 16. This first passenger flight took off from Tokyo’s Narita Airport to Seoul’s Incheon Airport in South Korea. Worth mentioning, there were only two passengers on the plane in the 290-seats Boeing 787.
The Japan Airlines-owned long-haul, low-cost carrier has been forced to postpone its inaugural flight twice due to travel restrictions. ZIPAIR initially planned to launch passenger flights from Tokyo to Bangkok in May and Tokyo to Seoul in July 2020, but neither flight has started as scheduled. On the other hand, their cargo flights from Tokyo to Bangkok and Seoul were launched in June and September.
On the morning of October 16, ZIPAIR’s first passenger flight finally took off – from Tokyo’s Narita Airport to Seoul’s Incheon Airport (flight number ZG41), operated by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (registration number JA825J) with 290 seats on board, including 18 business class and 272 economy class.
The passenger flight was five months later than planned and had only two passengers (one Japanese male and one Korean female), while the crew consisted of 10 people, including two pilots and eight flight attendants.
Despite the extremely low occupancy, the airline gave great importance to the inaugural flight. The airline’s chairman and president attended in person and greeted the passengers. Narita Airport also celebrated the inaugural passenger flight with a water salute.
The airline claims that strong demand for cargo allows them to cover their costs despite carrying only two passengers on its first passenger flight. According to the information released on ZIPAIR’s official website, there are two passenger flights a week from Tokyo to Seoul, five cargo flights a week, making six round-trip flights a week after consolidating. Also, ZIPAIR will operate three passenger flights from Tokyo to Seoul for the new flying season starting on October 25.
Though having a relatively bumpy start, the airline did not delay its operations. It announced a second route on October 19, which will launch five weekly one-way flights from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand to Tokyo’s Narita Airport in Japan on October 28.
Currently, Thailand does not allow Japanese passenger flights to enter the country but allows international flights to depart Thailand to operate. ZIPAIR said the flights will initially carry Japanese citizens in Thailand back to Japan.
In addition to operating flights in East and Southeast Asia, the airline has bigger dreams, that it’s considering flights across the Pacific. The airline has previously announced plans to fly to Hawaii.