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Pilots shortage forces Skymark to slash 633 flights

Date Posted: 2008-06-13

Okinawans will have to do without Skymark airline flights in July and August as the airline announced plans to cut 633 flights over the next couple months.

Skymark this week blamed a shortage of pilots as the reason for slashing the flights, including the daily midnight flight between Naha and Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Skymark’s president said he’s had problems between the company and its pilots, with pilots demanding more pay than the airline can afford. Shinichi Nishikubo says two pilots already quit Skymark this month, citing health reasons.

Nishikubo says new pilots will be onboard by the end of August, allowing normal schedules to resume. Skymark flies 1,700 flights each month to Sapporo and Asahikawa, both in Hokkaido, Fukuoka, Okinawa and Kobe. He said 168 flights would be canceled this month, part of the total announced total of 633.

“I’m so sorry about stopping flights, ”Nishikubo says. “I was kind of immature for this business, and I regret it so much.” Skymark says “we’re providing raining for a number of pilots, and expect sufficient flight staff once training is complete.” Nishikubo adds “I’ll have new pilots again starting in September, and my company will fly to Sapporo, Koube, Fukuoka and Okinawa.”

Skymark, at the same time this week, announced lower than expected operating revenues and profits. It reduced projected revenues from May estimates of ¥49.5 billion to ¥48.3 billion, leaving a new net profit forecast of ¥200 million. The airline had earlier announced net revenues expectations of ¥660 million. The airline was formed by Nishikubo in 1996, with flights begun two years later.

Skymark flies four 767-300ER aircraft capable of hauling 309 passengers each, and six Boeing 737’s. By 2010, Skymark expects to have at least ten 737 aircraft flying its domestic routes, partially replacing the aging 767’s.

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