Tokyo, February 10: On February 16, a unique Japan Airlines charter flight bound for the Pacific resort island of Saipan carrying a mixed group of 206 aviation enthusiasts and people who like to experience special commemorations, will be the last international departure from Nagoya's Komaki Airport, taking off at 8:45 p.m. that night for the three and a half hour flight to the tropical destination.
But the passengers will not be enjoying Saipan's tropical charms for long. Arriving there at ten minutes after one a.m. in the morning of February 17, the group will spend just two hours 45 minutes on the island. At 3.55 a.m. local time they leave to return to Nagoya at 6:30 a.m. to be the very first international flight to land on the opening day of the brand new Chubu International Airport, known popularly as Centrair. The Boeing 767-300ER charter aircraft will be specially decorated for the occasion with the Centrair mascot on the fuselage*.
The special once-only \44,800 tour, jointly organized by JAL's tour wholesale subsidiary JALPAK and the Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) to commemorate the opening of Centrair, was sold out within minutes of being posted on the JALPAK web site last December. As of February 10 there were still more than 200 hopefuls on the waiting list for cancellations.
Apart from the unique experiences of closing down one airport and opening another, the passengers also get a number of special treats. These include:
CENTRAIR OPENING DAY - FIRST FLIGHTS SEEN FROM THE CENTRAIR BATH
If the charter fliers use their free bath tickets, they will be able to lie and soak while watching the JAL Group's first domestic flight leave the new airport, a JAL Express 737-400 flight JC3273 heading for Kumamoto, in Kyushu, at 7:20 a.m. followed 15 minutes later by a JAL domestic flight, JL3201 - the 7:35 a.m. departure for Fukuoka, also in Kyushu.
At 9.00 a.m. the bathers can observe the very first international flight departure from Centrair, JAL 613 bound for Shanghai's Pudong Airport.
This will be followed at 10:00 by the inauguration flight of Japan Airlines' new daily B777 service from Nagoya to Paris. This flight, JL437, will be seen off by local dignitaries including the governor of Aichi Prefecture, assisted by Miss Nagoya, Miss France, the president of JAL International, Katsuo Haneda and Air France executives.
Passengers on this new Paris JAL flight will be able to sample Nagoya cuisine. The in-flight menu features grilled Kochin chicken, a Nagoya regional breed renowned for its succulent flavour - (also served on the special Saipan charter flight). JAL will be providing more Nagoya treats on the return flight menus from Paris, including `'Tenmusu'', rice balls with a savoury topping of deep-fried shrimp and `'Kishimen'', a dish of flat, wheat noodles served in soup.
Japan Asia Airways, the Group subsidiary operating Japan-Taiwan services, takes off at 10:00 also with flight EG283 for Taipei.
CENTRAIR - NEW BUSINESS CHANCE FOR JAL
Apart from the razzmatazz of the aviation fans' charter flight, and the other ceremonies and celebrations on February 17, the opening of Centrair represents a major new business chance for the JAL Group, providing JAL with the opportunity to expand its operations in Japan and Asia and to introduce new services to Europe and China.
EUROPE: The new daily Nagoya-Paris flight is a code share operation with Air France. The new flight will link to an additional 8 cities across Europe via JAL code-share flights with Air France from Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris.
CHINA: Additionally, JAL is inaugurating on February 18 a three times weekly flight between Nagoya and Guangzhou that will increase the number of Chinese destinations served by JAL from Nagoya to five. JAL`s total China services from Nagoya will increase to 31 a week (including code-share flights), and as a result, JAL's total Japan-China passenger network will increase to 219 flights per week on 27 routes: the largest Japan-China network currently available. (JAL's total weekly Japan-China flights will increase to 234 per week from July).
KOREA: JAL services to Korea will substantially increase from 11 to 21 flights a week with expansion of its Nagoya -Busan service from 4 to 7 flights a week, and the establishment of a new 7 flights per week service in code share with Korean Air. Flights to Bangkok, Thailand will be increased from three flights a week to daily service.
USA: From April 4, JAL and American Airlines will launch a new daily non-stop flight between Nagoya and Chicago, operated by American Airlines' 777-200 aircraft.
JAL will also boost international cargo services at the new airport, with three weekly 747 all-cargo aircraft routed Hong Kong-Nagoya-USA. Komaki Airport did not have the runway length for long-range international cargo freighter operations.
JAL`s twice-daily feeder services on the Nagoya-Narita route will increase in capacity benefiting Chubu region passengers making international transfers at Narita, Tokyo, with the introduction of 150-seat 737 types. Services between Nagoya - Fukuoka will increase by 3 flights per day to 8 daily flights daily, and those between Nagoya - Sapporo will increase by 1 flight per day to 6 daily.
NAGOYA'S KOMAKI AIRPORT - STILL IN BUSINESS
Although all JAL's international flight and most JAL domestic flight operations now based at Nagoya's Komaki Airport will move to Centrair when it opens, J-Air, a JAL Group commuter subsidiary operating CRJ-200 regional jets will serve Komaki in response to an expected rise in demand in the region
Other JAL Group related activities at Centrair include participation in a new joint venture company, CHUBU SKY SUPPORT Co. Ltd, founded in July 12, 2004 by ANA (All Nippon Airways), Japan Airlines (JAL) and Meitetsu (Nagoya Railroad).
This company will supply ground-handling services at the new airport. Chubu Sky Support will handle a wide range of services including aircraft ramp servicing, cargo and baggage handling and aircraft cabin cleaning for customer airlines. The JAL Group is participating in the new company for greater efficiency in the use of equipment, facilities, human resources and assurances of safety.
JAL CENTRAIR OPERATIONS OUTLINE
(1) JAL Group International Network from Centrair, Nagoya
(2) International Cargo Services from CENTRAIR February 17
(3) Japan Domestic Services from Centrair & Komaki Airport, Nagoya (From February 17)
*Illustration of the Centrair mascot is being sent by separate e-mail