Details Of ZIPAIR Tokyo, Japan Airlines’ New Low Cost Carrier

Filed Under: Japan Airlines

We’ve known for a while that Japan Airlines plans to launch a low cost carrier, and today some of the details of that became more official, including the name, routes, and more.

Japan Airlines’ new low cost carrier name

Japan Airlines’ low cost carrier will be named ZIPAIR Tokyo, and we can expect for it to launch in summer of 2020.

I love their very detailed explanation of how they came up with the name:

‘ZIPAIR Tokyo’ is a coined word derived from the English word ZIP, which describes speed, such as how fast time can pass when traveling on a unique airline. In addition, the brand name incorporates the idea of traveling to destinations in various ZIP CODES, while aiming to create a calculated travel experience that encompasses the originality and ingenuity of the Japanese culture. And finally, the word Tokyo was added to the name, as the airline will be based in one of the most advanced cities in the world.

Alrighty then…

ZIPAIR Tokyo fleet

ZIPAIR Tokyo will be operating a fleet of Boeing 787-8 aircraft. They’re getting their first two 787-8s from Japan Airlines, and then they plan to add two more to their fleet per year, either by leasing them from Japan Airlines, or by buying new ones.

So the airline is planning an all 787-8 fleet, though we’ll see how big it gets.

ZIPAIR Tokyo routes & launch date

ZIPAir Tokyo should launch with the start of the summer 2020 schedule, which should be in late March 2020. That means they’ll be flying in time for next year’s Cherry Blossom and also the Olympics.

The airline has announced that their first two routes will be from Tokyo Narita to Bangkok and Seoul Incheon.

It’s interesting that the airline will be partly replicating routes served by Japan Airlines, rather than launching new routes altogether.

We don’t know what routes they’ll launch beyond that, though management has expressed interest in operating transpacific flights, including to the US West Coast. Also, destinations like Las Vegas and Bali have been thrown around.

Where the efficiency comes from with ZIPAIR Tokyo

Japan Airlines is known for their spacious cabins. The carrier has a few 787-8 configurations, ranging in capacity from 161 seats to 206 seats. That’s a really low capacity for a fairly large plane.

As a point of comparison, Scoot seats 335 people on their 787-8s. So while I’m not sure ZIPAIR Tokyo will go quite that dense, there’s potentially quite a bit they can do to optimize the configuration for a low cost carrier. Add in the cargo potential on the 787-8, and this could work quite well for the airline.

Bottom line

Japan Airlines is known for their excellent onboard product in all cabins, and also just how comfortable their planes are. Some of their 787-8s have 33″ of pitch and eight seats per row in economy, which is almost unprecedented.

Given the general pride that airlines in Japan take in their product, it will be very interesting to see what kind of services ZIPAIR Tokyo offers. Will this be a full-on ultra low cost carrier where nothing is free, or will they simply take advantage of a significantly denser configuration while still offering at least basic services?

Time will tell…

What do you make of ZIPAIR Tokyo?

  1. Economy will most likely be reconfigured to 3-3-3. I’ll be suprised if it’s not, especially for a low cost carrier.

  2. @Claus, GMP, like HND, is tough to get gate spots. It’s not for an LCC.

    As @John said, JAL doesn’t fly to ICN. GMP is essentially only KE, OZ, JAL, NH. So this is a move for JAL to compete with other LCC from KE, NH (like Jinair, Peach, etc)

  3. Sounds like Zipper.
    Perhaps JAL is taking clues from the synergy between Qantas and Jetstar.

  4. I think JAL is trying to avoid GK so picked up these destinations.
    GMP is much closer to Seoul than ICN, and Korea government do not allow most foreign flying to GMP. In case everybody wants flying to GMP rather than ICN.
    If GMP expands like HND, ICN would be dehubed like NRT.

  5. @John JAL’s website begs to disagree – at least 4 direct flights & 2 via other Japanese cities daily

  6. Well, I live in Japan for 11 years now and I don’t like any japanese airlines for two reasons.

    The temperature inside the aircraft is higher than other airlines, and the pitch distance between seats may offer some additional room for legs, but the seat itself is narrower than western airlines. Average japanese is smaller and thinner comparing to a western individual, airlines here may look “comfortable” at first sight, but if you are taller than 5’9″/10″ traveling economy on ANA or JAL may not get much better flight experience, soon as you get your seat, you’ll realize what I’m talking about.

    At least, these airlines offer good service onboard and you can expect a clean aircraft and better food in their lounges. But believe or not, I felt more comfortable flying UA from NRT to HNL than ANA on same route. (OWS/*G Member)

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