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Islanders protest cutting jet flights to Kume Island

Date Posted: 2002-11-24

A delegation of members of Kume Island Chamber of Commerce and Kume Mayor Hisajo Takazato visited Okinawa Prefecture Hall, Monday, to complain Japan Transocean Airways (JTA) decision to begin using a smaller propeller-driven aircraft on one of its four daily flights between Naha and Kume Island. The delegates asked prefecture officials to pressure the airline reverse its decision to start using the smaller plane. “We need the larger aircraft. The smaller can’t carry cargo and we cannot get our produce to markets in Naha,” delegates complained.

Earlier JTA used to fly all four flights using Boeing 737 jets, but according to JTA officials, it just doesn’t make economic sense. “The flights between Naha and Kume have been only 47.9 percent full on average. As we cannot fly without passengers, we had to do something about that extra capacity, and started to fly one of the lights with a smaller plane that has 49 seats instead of 150 that Boeing 737 has. I hope the islanders can understand that,” a JTA spokesman said.

The delegation was not convinced. “Because JTA has changed to the smaller plane, sick people and doctors have difficulty getting reservations, and that worries our residents,” Kume Mayor Takazato said. “Additional problems are that we cannot bring school lunches from Naha, and it’s very difficult for us to prepare them in Kume; we cannot get our shrimp, vegetables and other produce to markets in Naha as the small aircraft does not have the cargo capacity,” the mayor added.

Officials at the Prefecture Archipelago Promotion Section promised that they would discuss with JTA to find a solution that everyone can live with. However, JTA officials declined to make any promises concerning on what aircraft they will use in the future.

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