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Overnight flights to Tokyo now reality from Okinawa

Date Posted: 2005-07-09

The nighttime skies over Naha are a bit brighter this month as new air service to Tokyo is under way.

Skymark Air Lines began its nightly flights to and from Tokyo on July 1st, the first time in 31 years there have been overnight domestic air flights in Japan. The earlier services were by Towa Domestic Fly between Tokyo and Fukuoka.

The first flight arrived Saturday shortly after midnight, at 12:50am, from Tokyo. The nightly return flight from Okinawa to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport leaves Naha International Airport at 3:20am and arrives at 5:40am. The maiden flight had 215 passengers aboard.

Skymark says it will run the new service for a 90-day trial period, but adds that it expects the market to be vibrant. For businessmen, the flights are expected to boost efficiency while eliminating the need for expensive overnight stays in Tokyo hotels. “The flights allow an Okinawa traveler to arrive in Tokyo, freshen up, then begin the business day,” a spokesman points out. “Business people have the whole day from 9am to 5pm to do their business, then return home after a leisurely evening.”

Casual passengers are already happy. “I study at night school,” said one. “Now I can minimize missed school classes by flying at night.”

The overnight prices are cheaper than regular fares. Tickets cost from ¥19,500 one way, roughly 40% less expensive than standard flight bookings. One observer said even more discounted prices could be obtained through ticket discount agencies.

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