November 15, 2014 7:12 am JST

Redeye flights finding favor at Tokyo airport

TOKYO -- Airlines are increasingly offering overnight flights from Haneda Airport here as travelers seek to pack their weekend trips with more daylight hours for less money.

     All Nippon Airways is set to launch a flight departing from Haneda after 1 a.m. and arriving in Hong Kong after 5 a.m., operating three round trips a week Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays starting Dec. 20. The frequency is expected to increase to seven round trips starting in March 2015.

     The Japanese carrier now offers five late-night flights from Haneda to such cities as Los Angeles and Honolulu.

     United Airlines has begun operating flights that take off at 1 a.m. and arrive in San Francisco in the late afternoon on the previous day local time. Seven round trips a week began Oct. 28.

     Low-cost carrier Hong Kong Express is set to increase overnight service from Haneda to two flights a day this Sunday.

     Japan Airlines offers late-night flights to five destinations, including San Francisco and Ho Chi Minh City, and is considering adding similar service to Australia. Turkish Airlines aims to offer redeye service from the Japanese capital.

     Late-night flights tend to be more affordable. A daytime ANA round trip to Hong Kong starts at 46,000 yen ($392), but the airfare drops to 40,000 yen for overnight.

     Redeye trips are catching on. ANA reports that the load factor for overnight flights to Honolulu rose from 88% in fiscal 2011 to 94% in the first half of fiscal 2014, climbing from 82% to 85% for Singapore-bound service.

     "Japanese people did not have the concept of going to the airport in the middle of night, but we are seeing increasing proof that there is indeed demand," ANA Chairman Shinichiro Ito says.

     An official at group company ANA Sales says 55% of customers buying travel packages to Hawaii from either Haneda or nearby Narita Airport use overnight flights from Haneda. "Many are active couples in their 50s and 60s who travel on weekends," he adds.

(Nikkei)

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