Skymark cuts Miyako, Ishigaki flights, Solaseed fills gap

Skymark Airlines that recently filed for bankruptcy protection, ended its flights to Miyako and Ishigaki islands, Saturday.

Solaseed Air, a subsidiary of All Nippon Airways (ANA) filled the gap partially as it inaugurated flights between Naha and Ishigaki on Sunday.

Skymark terminated flights linking Naha with the two islands as a part of its efforts to return to profitability. According to a Skymark spokesman the two routes had not been profitable since their inauguration. On the route between Naha and Miyako its flights had been 80 to 85 percent full on average, and lately the occupancy had dipped to below 80 percent.

Between Naha and Ishigaki there had been even more empty seats. The airline says that the occupancy was at the highest in July 2013 when 73.3 percent of the seats were sold.

Skymark flew its last scheduled flights to the two islands on Saturday. According to the airline spokesman, more routes are facing the ax later this year,

Solaseed Air is flying between Naha and Ishigaki two round trips a day. For the route, it has granted a special discount fare for residents of the remote island that the airline calls “Solashimawari.” With the discount one-way ticket costs ¥10,500, and during the summer peak season the fare is ¥1,000 more.

Ishigaki Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama said at the welcoming ceremony for the first Solaseed flight that he welcomes the new airline and is glad to see it open the route. “We all hope that this new route will make Ishigaki more popular among the traveling public,” Nakayama said.

With Solaseed starting the route, three airlines are running flights between Naha and Ishigaki; Solaseed Air, All Nippon Airways and Japan Transocean Airlines, a subsidiary of JAL.