OSAKA -- Japanese low-cost carrier Peach Aviation is canceling flights between Naha and the island of Ishigaki, both in Okinawa Prefecture, due to low profitability.
The airline started flying one round trip daily between the islands last September, for as low as 3,290 yen ($32) each way. In face of increased competition from both Peach and fellow budget carrier Skymark Airlines, such large carriers as All Nippon Airways had dropped their prices for the route to about 5,000 yen for a one-way ticket, down from their original 20,000 yen range.
Peach has announced plans to fly the route less frequently in July because of a shortage of pilots and cancel it completely from August through October. The cancellation is now expected to extend to November and beyond.
Locals are concerned that fares could rise again if the budget carrier leaves.
Peach will start flights between Naha and Fukuoka on Saturday, and continue its flights between Ishigaki and Kansai International Airport. It may consider resuming its Naha-Ishigaki route if it sees the potential for operating multiple trips a day, allowing for increased profitability.