ZIPAIR Tokyo (ZG, Tokyo Narita) has applied for a US Foreign Air Carrier Permit and exemption authority as it hopes to launch flights to Hawaii in October 2020.

"As relates to the United States, ZIPAIR plans initially to operate daily nonstop scheduled combination flights using B787-8 aircraft between Tokyo Narita and Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport beginning around the start of the IATA winter 2020 season. ZIPAIR also intends to expand its operations to other points within the United States in the future," the low-cost carrier, a subsidiary of JAL Group, said.

The start-up secured its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) in July 2019 and planned to launch commercial flights in mid-May 2020, initially connecting Narita to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi. However, it admitted in its filing with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected and thus forced the deferral of these plans. As such, it has yet to settle on a revised launch date although it remains hopeful that its second route, to Seoul Incheon, will still commence on July 1 as planned.

ZIPAIR will operate two B787-8s initially, both of which are leased from JAL - Japan Airlines (JL, Tokyo Haneda) and configured for 290 passengers, with 18 seats in business class and 272 in the economy. It plans to add two more B787-8s per year going forward.

The Japan-Hawaii market is one of the key Pacific leisure markets. Barring the current impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the market is served by seven airlines: JAL, ANA - All Nippon Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and 5th-freedom operators Korean Air and AirAsia X.