Newly launched Japan Airlines low-cost subsidiary Zipair plans to start the world's first transpacific low-cost carrier services once it gains ETOPS approval for its reconfigured Boeing 787-8s sometime this year, JAL and Zipair executives revealed here Tuesday. Plans call for service launch between Tokyo Narita and Bangkok on May 14 and for a second ex-JAL 787 between Narita and Seoul on July 1.
Appearing at the Singapore Airshow on Tuesday with Japan Airlines executive officer for procurement Ryo Tamura and Zipair president Shingo Nishida, Boeing commercial sales and marketing vice-president Ihssane Mounir revealed plans to convert the interiors of the Dreamliners from a 206-seat configuration to a dual-class, 290-seat layout. Nishida detailed plans to lighten the airplane by reducing the number of galleys from four to three, removing seat monitors, and using lightweight synthetic leather for the seat upholstery.
Nishida described the target market for Zipair as young professionals who don’t necessarily travel on company expense accounts. He defined the class of service as neither low-cost or full service, but rather as “new basic.”
“The airline industry has become polarized between low-cost carriers and full-service carriers,” said Nishida. Elements that reflect Zipair’s new basic strategy include plans to fit the airplanes with 18 full-flat seats in business class while the economy section features 17-inch-wide seats installed in a 31-inch pitch layout.
“Boeing engineers really helped us a lot [with the conversion design],” said Nishida. “To have 290 seats without compromising passenger comfort is our challenge.”