Maryann Simson, director of APEX Media and Hide Isomura, CDO and CIO of Zipair. Images: Kok Wee Lim

At FTE APEX ASIA EXPO this week, Japan Airlines, Zipair and Peach presented their strategies for accommodating the estimated 57 million passengers who will fly to Tokyo’s airports in 2020, and how they plan to differentiate their service offerings.

Ahead of the Summer Olympic Games taking place in Tokyo this year, Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, challenged local companies to bring in 40 million visitors to Japan with hopes of boosting the economy through tourism. Japan’s airlines will be ramping up international routes, bringing in an estimated 57 million passengers to Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda international airports in 2020. In anticipation of the increased traffic, for the first time, aircraft will be able to fly over central Tokyo during the day.

This scenario sets the stage for competition to fly travelers into Tokyo and around Japan. Three airlines, Japan Airlines, Zipair and Peach, presented their offerings at FTE APEX ASIA EXPO.

Image: Kok Wee Lim

Akira Mitsumasu, VP Global Marketing of Japan Airlines and APEX board member.

Japan Airlines
Reliable full-service carrier with a variety of developments toward innovation

In part for the Olympics, Japan Airlines will be adding routes departing from Narita and Haneda international airports, with destinations including Vladivostok, Guam and San Francisco in the next year. Akira Mitsumasu, JAL’s vice-president of Global Marketing and APEX board member, also listed off some of the airline’s other developments, including automation and biometric enhancements at the airport; the opening of its Innovation Lab last year, where it is fostering ideas from outside of the company and within; and exploring the possibilities of VTOL vehicles and supersonic aircraft – all while trying to maintain its commitment to United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Zipair Tokyo
Low-cost JAL subsidiary, set to operate its first flights ahead of the Olympics

The Japan Airlines subsidiary, which will be operating two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners (former JAL aircraft) in a two-class configuration for mid- to long-haul flights is aiming to become “the new basic of air travel,” said CDO and CIO Hide Isomura. The airline has plans to expand its fleet and route network in the coming years, with plans to fly to the United States west coast by 2021. Isomura hopes that the “new basic” philosophy and “simple IT” touch points will resonate with both young and old. Zipair expects to launch flights from Narita to Bangkok and Seoul, in May and July, respectively – just ahead of the Olympics.


Jose Oller, EVP of Operations, Peach Aviation.

Peach Aviation
Single class, ultra low-cost carrier, hoping to make way for tourism in Japan, beyond the main cities

With the absorption of Vanilla Air completed this fall, Peach is now Japan’s third largest airline, after All Nippon Airways and JAL. Jose Oller, the Peach’s executive vice-president of Operations, expects there will be a shortage of hotels and accommodations in Japan during the Olympics. However, with the recent Rugby World Cup, which was held in Japan, they learned that audiences are willing to stay outside of the city and fly to and from the sporting venue. “We’ve seen with the Rugby World Cup that people book their accommodations outside of the main city, fly out for the event and then fly back again. This will allow for a greater diversity of experience in Japan. People will be able to see more than Tokyo and Osaka and will be able to revitalize the economies of the places we serve,” he said. Oller also mentioned that Peach will be adding two Airbus A321LRs to its fleet, enabling the airline to operate flights lasting up to seven hours, however, the aircraft will not be received in time for the Olympic traffic.