A Piaggio P 180 Avanti II at Boeing Field (BFI). Image by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.
It’s not every day that you hear about a new airline starting service. With the immensely strong barriers to entry including existing airlines, financing issues, and federal regulations, there are not many new airlines founded today. Anymore, it seems like the industry is consolidating via mergers, but Arrow is aiming to show that new niche airlines can succeed even in this economy. This new airline is banking on people valuing their time and wanting to avoid the hassle of traveling with traditional airlines and long security lines. I had the opportunity to meet with Arrow CEO Russell Belden this past Monday and take a flight from Seattle to Oakland (and back).
Arrow is unique in few ways. First of which is that it is a private club in which people can purchase memberships ($500 per month with a one year commitment) and then have access to purchase tickets on their aircraft. But unlike other private jet services which operate similarly, Arrow will have scheduled services.
They are planning to launch Seattle (out of Boeing Field – BFI) to Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC), which will cost members about $500 each way. The ticket costs are comparable to a first class ticket on other airlines serving similar routes.
Once Arrow receives 200 membership commitments they will purchase their initial aircraft and make plans to begin service within three months (delivery time-frame for a new plane).
The interior of the Piaggio. Photo by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.
Arrow has a target market of business professionals who have much better things to do than simply wait in line. Sure, a flight on Arrow might cost slightly more than a typical first or business class ticket, but isn’t a CEO’s time exceptionally valuable?
Arrow believes they will be able to shave off as much as two hours simply due to eliminating the added hassles of the typical airport experience. With on-board Wi-Fi to be installed on their new aircraft, it will also enable professionals to keep in constant contact and be productive at 30,000 feet. While our test flight did not have Wi-Fi on board, we actually had an intermittent signal on our mobile phones throughout the journey.
Fun, cool and trendy Peach Airlines livery on an Airbus A320.
Soon, Japan will have another Low Cost Carrier (LCC) option for passengers: Peach Airlines. The airline will operate out of Kansai International Airport (KIX) in Osaka, Japan. Peach plans to start operations no later than March 2012 between Sappora and Fukuoka and to Seoul in May 2012.
The airline has three major share holders: All Nippon Airways (ANA), Innovation Network Corporation of Japan and the First Eastern Investment Group. Although ANA holds a slightly larger share than the other two investors, I am told the airline will operate independently from ANA.
According to the airline, the name “Peach” was chosen to symbolize energy and happiness across Asian countries. “The name Peach was chosen to reflect our mission of becoming a completely new type of airline that links destinations in Japan and Japan with Asia,” Peach Aviation CEO, Shinichi Inoue stated. “Our promise is to provide safe, low cost travel 365 days of the year, making air travel easier and more accessible. Our airline will also reflect the smart sophistication that has come to represent the words ‘Cool Japan’.”
Although the name might be “Peach,” their livery will be made up of purples and pinks. The colors are supposed to represent “cuteness, coolness and happiness.” Okay, we can go with that. At this point, the airline only has graphical representations of the livery, but an airline spokesperson said we should be able to see the livery an an aircraft sometime in the fall. The airline planes to lease brand new Airbus A320 aircraft in an all economy 180-seat configuration.
The airline has shown some possible concepts of their flight crew’s uniform and they look very trendy, laid back and young.
Interior mock up for Peach Airline's Airbus A320.
You might not realize that P.E.A.C.H. is also an acronym. According the website it matches up to the type of experience you should expect: Pan – Asian, Energetic, Affordable, Cute & Cool, Happy.
The airline explained to me over email that they, “are targeting a wide range of people, but much of our focus is targeting young females.”
Is Japan ready for a low cost airline targeted at the younger and more female population? I am not sure, but it sure seems like ANA and other investors sure thing so.
EDIT: I had originally stated Peach would be Japan’s first Low Cost airline, that is incorrect, I have updated the story. Thanks.