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Skymark celebrates anniversary with stable earnings but maintenance problems persist

  • 2016-01-29 15:00:00
  • , Asahi
  • Translation

(Asahi: January 29, 2016 – p. 11)


 By Kaname Ohira


 Reconstruction has been well underway at Skymark Airlines since it filed for bankruptcy protection a year ago. Its earnings are beginning to stabilize thanks to efforts to switch to fuel-efficient small aircraft and cut unprofitable routes. But its poor maintenance operations are giving rise to new problems, such as a reduction or suspension in services.


 Skymark is suspending a total of 37 one-way flights, which account for about 4% of its total services, for a week from Jan. 24. This is because 2 of its fleet of 27 aircraft have been out of service for a long time. The problem has lingered since last summer.


 Management decided to cut flights on the Kobe-Nagasaki, Chubu-Shinchitose and three other routes. “We will reduce flights so we can manage flight services with a fleet of about 20 aircraft,” said Masahiko Ichie, president of the carrier. “The aim of the cuts is to prevent unscheduled flight suspension and delays.”


 Talks on code-share services with All Nippon Airways are not moving forward either. This joint flight operation is aimed at boosting passenger rates on less-crowded routes. Skymark planned to implement this as early as this autumn.


 But the two have yet to reach consensus. ANA demands Skymark integrate its ticket-sales functions into ANA’s system to facilitate smooth ticketing services. Skymark fears that too much reliance on ANA’s system may make it difficult to maintain its independence. They have not met for talks since the beginning of the year, which will likely push back the schedule in code-share services.


 Skymark’s reconstruction is expected to conclude by the end of fiscal 2015. Its earnings and passenger rates have been improving steadily, as it pulled out of the Yonago- and Sendai-bound services and disposed of its midsize aircraft. It may log an operating profit in fiscal 2015.


 Cheap oil prices are proving a boon to Skymark, but management wants the firm to stay stable, regardless of fluctuations in fuel costs. It looks to complete the maintenance of the two aircraft that have been out of service within the first half of fiscal 2016. (Abridged)

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