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16:01 19 January 2017

Peach Aviation to start 1st nonstop Okinawa-Bangkok flight

BANGKOK, Jan. 19, Kyodo

Japanese budget carrier Peach Aviation Ltd. will next month launch a direct service between Bangkok and Naha, capital of Japan's southern prefecture of Okinawa, in its bid to enter the Southeast Asian air passenger market.

The daily nonstop service takes between 4 hours 15 minutes and 4 hours 55 minutes, with the one-way airfare ranging from 3,180 to 13,980 baht ($89-391), claimed to be 50 percent cheaper than connecting flight fares offered by full-service carriers.

The inaugural flight is scheduled for Feb. 19 from Naha Airport to Suvarnabhumi Airport serving Bangkok.

Peach Chief Executive Officer Shinichi Inoue said the new Bangkok-Okinawa service, its first route to Southeast Asia, is expected to have a 75-80 percent passenger load factor and will be the 13th international route for the airline.

Thai and Japanese individual female travelers aged 20 to 30 years are considered the main target, while passengers from Thailand's neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam are also expected.

Flight tickets have been offered for sale and reservation on the airline's official website since December last year, with Thai passengers accounting for up to 50 percent of bookings, Inoue said.

Amid fierce competition among low-cost carriers, Peach will seek to attract passengers by emphasizing Japan's reputation for quality and "kawaii" cute pop culture, he added.

According to data from the Japan National Tourism Organization, Okinawa receives over seven million tourists a year, especially during high season from April to October.

On top of the Bangkok route, the airline is planning to operate more international flights, with flight time of about 4 hours, from Japan to new overseas destinations, particularly cities in Southeast Asian countries.

(NNA/Kyodo)

==Kyodo

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