New airline Air Transse Co. said Monday it will begin flight operations on March 13, starting with round-trip service between Hakodate airport and Tokachi Obihiro airport in Hokkaido.
“We can shorten the time to an hour, where it takes eight hours by taxi and six hours by train,” Air Transse President Rika Emura, 36, said. “Our target passengers are individual travelers in their 50s to 70s.”
An 18-seat propeller plane will be used for the one-hour flight, which will be priced at 20,000 yen to 25,000 yen.
“Most commuter airlines are in the red and are receiving subsidies,” said Hideo Sawada, chairman of the H.I.S. travel agency and Air Transse’s top shareholder. “We have to change that business environment so we can benefit the local people.”
Sawada has a 16 percent stake in Air Transse worth 100 million yen and is also chairman of Skymark Airlines Co.
Air Transse hopes to generate annual sales of 500 million yen from the Hakodate- Tokachi route, which the company expects to attract 25,000 passengers a year. This would result in a first-year operating profit.
Emura, who in August became the country’s first female airline president, stressed cost-cutting is possible without sacrificing safety, and the carrier will try to become leaner by having its workers perform multiple tasks usually done by more staff at other airlines.
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