Japan Airlines’ Zipair Eyes 787 Hawaii Flights As First US Destination

Despite having to delay its launch plans, Japan’s newest lost-cost carrier is pushing ahead with its goal to fly to the US. Originally, Zipair was due to commence its first flights in May. It has had to cancel the launch due to the coronavirus outbreak but is still looking to include service to the US in its winter schedule and has officially applied for a flight route between Tokyo’s Narita airport and Honolulu in Hawaii.

Zipair concept in flight
ZIPAIR had to delay its launch due to travel restrictions. Photo: Zipair

Flights to the US

Zipair, Japan Airlines’ newest subsidiary, was due to enter service with a bang on the 14th of May with flights from Tokyo Narita to Bangkok. However, earlier this month, the airline announced it would be postponing the launch until after travel restrictions been lifted.

But just because its plans have been temporarily scuttled, it doesn’t mean they aren’t still planning big things for the future. According to AviationWire, Zipair has applied to the US Department of Transportation to open a route between Japan and Hawaii. If approved, the route is scheduled to start from the 25th of October 2020.

AviationWire is also reporting that the flight would be operated once daily by a Boeing 787-8. Currently, the airline has just two Boeing 787-8 aircraft, both of which came from parent company Japan Airlines (JAL). Zipair is expecting to lease several more aircraft from JAL, which will be used on this Hawaii flight as well as other services to the US.

honolulu airport hawaii
Zipair is due to schedule flights to Hawaii in October. Photo: Honolulu Airport

Getting back on track

This delay shouldn’t be for too long. The second route between Tokyo and Incheon (South Korea) is still scheduled for the 1st of July. This would mean that current travel restrictions would have to be lifted by then. The airline has not commented on when it is hoping to launch its Bangkok route.

Zipair needs to receive more aircraft from JAL before the autumn if it is hoping to open its route to Hawaii. The airline has big plans for itself and plans to grow its fleet to ten aircraft by 2024. Initially, the third aircraft from JAL was due to be delivered to the airline early next year in 2021.

First of its kind

If successful in its plans to launch several flights to the US, then the airline will be the first of its kind to do so. Offering what it calls a new basic style of flying, the airline aims to remain a low-cost carrier. The airline will not provide inflight entertainment and has been focused on cutting costs in every way possible. This includes replacing the seating material with a light-weight alternative to reduce fuel costs.

ANA and JAL Domestic Reductions
Zipair will have competition on routes between Japan and the west coast of America from ANA and United among other airlines. Photo: Getty Images

However, it has some big competition. Flights from Tokyo to the west coast of America are popular. United, JAL, Delta and Singapore Airlines all operate direct flights to Los Angeles. At around 10 hours per trip, no entertainment screen could be a big drawback for Zipair. The airline has yet to announce which destinations it is looking to fly to in the US and, at the time of publication, has not responded to Simple Flying’s request for comment.

What do you think of Zipair’s plans? Which destinations in the US do you think are a good fit for the airline when it has to compete with so many carriers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.