LCC Peach services to Memanbetsu Airport expected to contribute to tourism in the region
Scheduled flights by a low-cost carrier (LCC) airline, linking Honshu and Memanbetsu Airport in the northeastern Hokkaido town of Ozora, long awaited by people of the region, began on February 10. The inaugural Peach Aviation (Osaka prefecture) flight on the Memanbetsu–Narita route departed from Narita Airport almost full, with 169 passengers aboard. A total of 63 passengers were aboard the return flight that departed from Memanbetsu Airport, where staff and related persons welcomed the flight to celebrate the establishment of operations.
A male company employee from Chiba prefecture, who flew on the inaugural flight, bought his one-way ticket for 1,800 yen. His aim was to ride the seasonal ‘Ryuhyo Monogatari Train (Drift- Ice Train)’ on the JR Senmo line. “Up to now there was only ANA or JAL, so now there is more choice,” he said happily.
Locals have high expectations of the service as the Sea of Okhotsk drift-ice sightseeing season reaches its peak amid severe economic effects caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Approximately 30 volunteers from Ozora held a 10-meter-wide banner by the side of the airport, with “welcome”. According to one of the volunteers, “We wanted to invigorate the service; we hope it provides the opportunity to convey the excellence of eastern Hokkaido to people all around the country.”
Peach will operate one return flight a day between Memanbetsu and Narita, mainly at the weekends. Flights will depart from Narita at 1:55 p.m. and from Memanbetsu at 4:40 p.m., and use an Airbus A320 (capacity of 180).
As demand for flights has greatly decreased due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the development of a new route is part of Peach Aviation’s policy to transfer aircraft and employees from international flights – which are almost all cancelled right now – to domestic flights and also, according to a comment, “eastern Hokkaido is such a splendid region, we are looking ahead to after Corona. Hopefully we can help to invigorate the region.”
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