Zipair has made its maiden flight from Tokyo to Bangkok, however the flight carried no passengers due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
The cargo-only flight carried machine parts and chemical products on its maiden voyage.
LIVE: The inaugural international service of JAL's new LCC Zipair Tokyo is en-route to Bangkok from Narita, ironically only with cargo on board. https://t.co/MGphXrZLme
— Airport Webcams (@AirportWebcams) June 3, 2020
The low-cost subsidiary of Japan Airlines was due to fly on 14 May. The debut was delayed by the COVID-19 crisis. However, rather than sit idle, the carrier decided to capitalise on rising demand for cargo flights and swap out passengers for freight.
In a statement, Zipair president Shingo Nishida said, “Since the announcement of our business in May 2018, our employees have united to prepare for the launch of medium and long-distance LCC services. Unfortunately, in light of the current situation, we are not able to launch passenger flights to Bangkok. As people around the world find new ways to promote their businesses, we decided to take a step forward by temporarily launching cargo-only flights between Japan and Thailand.”
The cargo flights are keeping to the same schedule as the original passenger flights. The cargo flights will operate four times a week on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The flights will be operated by one of two Boeing 787-8s owner Japan Airlines had sent over earlier this year.
“As airlines continue to suspend flights, the need for air cargo services is in demand. As such, Zipair Tokyo announced the plan to launch cargo-only flights, utilising the carrier’s Boeing 787-8 aircraft between the two countries,” said Zipair in a statement.
The opportunity for increased cargo flights comes as COVID-19 has disrupted established supply chains. Japan’s car industry has a lot of components made in Thailand, and there’s usually a lot of cargo traffic between the two nations.
Passenger flights have been postponed indefinitely, but Zipair has ambitions of long haul flights particularly between Japan and the US.