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SAPPORO (Kyodo) Hokkaido International Airlines Co. has asked the transport ministry for permission to start flights between Tokyo’s Haneda airport and the city of Hakodate in Hokkaido, beginning March 18.

Hokkaido International Airlines, better known as Air Do, asked for authorization Thursday to operate two round-trip flights a day on the new route, according to the Sapporo-based airline.

Although Air Do initially envisioned flying to Obihiro, another Hokkaido city, it abandoned the idea, preferring the Haneda-Hakodate route due to the fact that operations on the route may be more profitable, airline officials said.

Serving Hakodate will grant Air Do access to maintenance facilities at the airport owned by business ally All Nippon Airways Co., they said.

The Hakodate route will be the struggling airline’s third. Air Do runs seven daily round-trip flights between Tokyo and Sapporo, and three between Tokyo and Asahikawa, also in Hokkaido, during summer. It runs eight flights on the former route and two on the latter in winter.

As part of Thursday’s application, the airline also sought authorization to add one more round-trip to each of the two routes, it said.

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