A new Japanese low-cost carrier is set to land on the U.S. mainland for the first time.
On Christmas Day, December 25, 2021, Japan’s ZIPAIR Tokyo will operate its inaugural flight from Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Los Angeles (LAX).
“We are thrilled to have ZIPAIR offer its services at Los Angeles International Airport, which will further strengthen the cultural and economy ties between our cities,” said Becca Doten, Deputy Executive Direction of Public & Government Affairs at Los Angeles World Airports.
Let’s find out more.
Who Is ZIPAIR?
ZIPAIR is a low-cost subsidiary of Japan Airlines that launched back in 2019.
So far, ZIPAIR has a relatively small route network with only 4 destinations served from its base at Tokyo Narita.
The airline’s main focus has been to establish links with major hubs within Asia, such as Bangkok (BKK), Singapore (SIN), and Seoul (ICN). The exception to that rule is Honolulu (HNL), which it has served since December 2020.
The start-up had plans to also inaugurate the route to Los Angeles in 2020, but the pandemic quickly put the reverse thrust on that.
As of December 25, 2021, round-trip flights from Tokyo to LA are planned to operate on Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays with the following schedule:
- Depart Tokyo Narita 2:45 p.m. — Arrive Los Angeles 7:30 a.m.
- Depart Los Angeles 9:30 a.m. — Arrive Tokyo Narita 2:25 p.m. (+1)
The block time is 9 hours and 45 minutes from Tokyo to LA and 11 hours and 55 minutes on the return to Tokyo.
Hot Tip: Check out our ultimate travel guide to Tokyo to learn about the best things to do, see, and enjoy on your trip!
Aircraft and Cabin Classes
ZIPAIR has a small fleet of just 3 Boeing 787-8 aircraft — the shortest and smallest of the 3 Dreamliner variants. Each aircraft comprises 290 seats, complete with a business class offering.
Low-cost business class cabins can often leave a lot to be desired. However, ZIPAIR’s version has 18 fully lie-flat JAMCO seats that you would expect on a full-service carrier.
Unfortunately, true to low-cost airline form, there will be no IFE screens in coach or business class. Instead, the airline offers passengers a fee-based option to connect to Wi-Fi and stream content to their devices.
Down the back, you’ll find 272 coach seats in a comfortable 3-3-3 configuration.
According to the airline, its mission is “to define a new standard in the air travel industry by offering a unique low-cost business model on long-haul international routes.”
It will be interesting to see how much market share ZIPAIR is able to garner given that there are already 4 well-established airlines operating flights between the 2 cities — ANA, JAL, Singapore Airlines, and United. Each of these airlines already operating the route has a loyalty program and solid customer base that ZIPAIR might struggle to compete with, though it does have a ZIPAIR Point Club.
ZIPAIR will certainly be an interesting new option for flyers between LA and Tokyo.
It will bring added competition, which is essential in the airline industry to keep airfares affordable and provide passengers with more choice.
However, when it comes to low-cost, long-haul travel in markets that already have established carriers operating, it can prove difficult for airlines to survive.
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