Air Do, a Japanese airline primarily operating domestic flights to the island of Hokkaido, announced yesterday that it will operate two charter rotations from Obihiro to Taipei in February 2019.
While the airline has operated international charter flights in the past, this will be the first time for such flights to be operated from Obihiro airport.
HD9251/9252: Obihiro – Taipei and Back
Air Do will operate the two charter roundtrips between Tokachi-Obihiro (OBO) and Taipei Taoyuan (TPE) on February 8, 2020, and February 12, 2020. While they’ll operate under the same flight numbers, the timings will be slightly different for the two roundtrips.
The first rotation will operate with the following schedule:
- HD9251 / OBO – TPE / 8:40AM – 12:55PM
- HD9252 / TPE – OBO / 3:10PM – 7:55PM
The second one will operate as follows:
- HD9251 / OBO – TPE / 9:25AM – 1:40PM
- HD9252 / TPE – OBO / 3:00PM – 7:45PM
The airline will use Boeing 737-700 aircraft with 144 seats on the flights.
The flights will be offered by the Japanese travel agency JTB and its partners to their customers as an option to visit Taiwan for a few days without having to transfer. They will also be sold in Taiwan by local travel agents.
Even though this will not be the first time for the airline to operate international charter flights – it previously run some from Sapporo, Memambetsu, and Kushiro to Taiwan – it will be the first time for it to do so from Obihiro.
As for Obihiro airport, while it is served by the occasional international charter (especially during winter season), it only offers year-round scheduled flights to Tokyo. Those are offered three times a day by Air Do (in cooperation with ANA) and four times a day by JAL.
Similarly, as mentioned in the introduction, Air Do operates almost exclusively flights to Hokkaido. Mainly, it connects Tokyo with airports like Sapporo, Hakodate, and Kushiro.
Besides the 737-700 that it will use for this charter flight, the airline also operates – on its busiest domestic routes – a fleet of Boeing 767-300s.
On a “micro scale,” this flight will benefit a few hundred passengers and perhaps a couple of plane spotters.
On a “macro scale,” though, it is great to see Air Do continuing operating these occasional charter flights. If for nothing else, then to maintain their capability to operate internationally.
With StarFlyer and Skymark Airlines having launched scheduled international flights recently, it would certainly be nice to see the trend follow. While at this point, Air Do doesn’t have any specific plans to operate scheduled international flights, it expressed interest in studying that option in the past.
Combined with the fact that growing domestically is difficult due to the already saturated market and the lack of slots at high-demand airports, expanding into connecting Hokkaido – its home – with destinations in other Asian countries might be an option worth trying one day.