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Peach plans hubs outside Japan

OSAKA -- Low-cost carrier Peach Aviation is looking to add more hubs, possibly choosing from among airports serving Seoul, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.

     The Japanese airline also seeks to carry 5.5 million to 6 million passengers in fiscal 2016, roughly twice as many as in fiscal 2013, according to Chief Executive Officer Shinichi Inoue.

     Peach now uses the Osaka area's Kansai Airport and Okinawa's Naha Airport as its hubs, flying 16 routes. It will consider adding greater Tokyo and Sapporo to its list of domestic hubs.

     A pilot shortage forced the budget carrier to reduce more than 2,000 flights between May and October. But this month, it will welcome several former Self-Defense Force pilots. They are taking advantage of a government framework that smooths defense personnel's transition to the private sector.

     "This winter, the number of Peach flights will be on a par with the level seen prior to the service decrease last summer," Inoue said. Flights for this summer are expected to surpass the level initially planned for 2014, he noted.

     Passenger numbers for the fiscal year ending March 31 are expected to exceed last fiscal year's 3 million or so. The number is expected to rise to around 4.2 million in fiscal 2015, with service set to increase on the Kansai-Sendai route and elsewhere.


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