While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the launch of Japan Airines' new budget airline subsidiary, it has filed for flights to its first US destination.

In a press release on April 9, ZIPAIR Tokyo announced it will postpone its Tokyo-Narita to Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi service initially scheduled for May 14 without a new date set for the flights to account for the ongoing pandemic. The airline has not announced any change to its other planned route to Seoul-Incheon which is currently scheduled to start on July 1.

Regarding the decision, ZIPAIR stated: “Although the postponement of ZIPAIR Tokyo may come as a disappointment, the safety and the well-being of our customers and employees are a top priority. We would like to ask for your understanding during this unprecedented time and we look forward to seeing you onboard in the near future.”

Both the Bangkok and Seoul services would see Boeing 787 leased from parent company Japan Airlines from its hub at Tokyo-Narita.

ZIPAIR Files for Foreign Air Carrier Permit with US DOT

ZIPAIR Tokyo is also keeping good on a plan to launch flights to North America beginning at the popular tourist destination of Hawaii.

According to a filing to the United States Department of Transportation, the new budget carrier has filed an application for a foreign air carrier permit and exemption. In the filing, the airline stated plans to launch its initial daily flights on the Tokyo-Narita to Honolulu using its Boeing 787 aircraft.

While no specific date has been set, the airline stated the Tokyo-Honolulu service could start around the IATA winter 2020 season. This year, the start of the season would fall on October 25.

Of the US markets, the Japan-Hawaii market has the most flights operated between the US and Japan. Several airlines including Japan Airlines (JAL), All Nippon Airways (ANA), Hawaiian, Delta, and United operate flights between Japan and Hawaii from Japanese cities including Tokyo (Haneda/Narita), Osaka,  Nagoya, and Sapporo. 

Along with the Japanese and US-based carriers, the market was served by AirAsia X between Osaka-Kansai and Honolulu, and Korean Air's fifth freedom flights from Tokyo-Narita.

ZIPAIR Tokyo was announced by Japan Airlines as its new budget carrier subsidiary in February 2019 as a response to local and foreign low cost airlines expanding their presences in Japan. With initial plans for serving regional cities such as Bangkok and Seoul, JAL intends to expand ZIPAIR's route network to long-haul destinations. The airline is eying routes in North America and Europe.

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