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A Miyazaki-based airline venture obtained government approval Tuesday to launch flights in August between Miyazaki airport and Haneda airport in Tokyo, setting itself up to become the third new major domestic airline after Skymark Airlines Co. and Hokkaido International Airlines Co. (Air Do).

The new carrier will spark a new round of price cutting because it is expected to set fares on the Miyazaki-Tokyo route at somewhere near 20,000 yen.

The other major airlines are currently charging about 30,000 yen.

SkynetAsia will start with five round-trip flights a day in August and increase that to six in September, the company said.

SkynetAsia will use two B737-400 airplanes, each capable of seating 150, that will be leased on a five-year contract from Boullioun Aviation Services Inc. of Singapore.

SkynetAsia will use five out of the nine round-trip slots at Haneda airport that have been set aside for new carriers since slots were redistributed in July 2000.

Other major airlines have been using those slots on a temporary basis.

The company, currently capitalized at 550 million yen, was established in March 1997 by major local companies. Current major shareholders include Miyagi Bank, Asahi Kasei Corp., and Kyushu Electric Power Co.

The airline will maintenance the aircraft with their own staff but entrust heavy maintenance to Taikoo Aircraft Engineering Co. of Xiamen, southern China, the company said.

SkynetAsia, previously called Pan-Asia Koku, initially aimed to operate out of Fukuoka, but moved to Miyazaki in September 2000.

SkynetAsia initially aimed to operate flights based in Fukuoka, but moved its base to Miyazaki in Sept. 2000.

The airline has already hired 285 employees and plans to expand to 321 soon, the company said.

Japan Airlines Co., which will integrate with Japan Air System Co. in October, is in talks to give away a check-in counter at Miyazaki Airport to SkynetAsia, a JAL spokesman said.

But both JAL and SkynetAsia officials claimed that the talks have been going on separately from the JAL-JAS integration plan.

The JAL-JAS group announced last month it would give away some check-in counters for new entrant carriers if necessary, as an effort to obtain consent for its merger from the Fair Trade Commission, the nation’s antimonopoly watchdog.

New ventures hoping to enter the domestic air market have often criticized the limited counter space at crowded Haneda airport as a barrier to success.

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