Japan's Skymark eyes larger fleet, more Airbus A380s

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Báo Đầu Tư English - 43 month(s) ago 3 readings

The president of Japanese domestic low-cost airline Skymark Tuesday outlined plans to join the top league of international carriers and said it could possibly expand its fleet of Airbus superjumbos.

Shinichi Nishikubo's comments come after the firm stunned the industry last month by becoming the first Japanese airline to order the A380s, buying four with an option for another two at a cost of more than two billion dollars.

Nishikubo said Skymark, based at Tokyo's Haneda International Airport, aims to expand its wider fleet, including Boeing 737s, within four years to 40-50 aircraft from the current 18.

Setting out a vision of going head-to-head with Japan's two dominant carriers -- Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) -- Nishikubo said he was looking at buying up to 15 double-decker planes in the future and push into Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States.

"I have no worries about the funds to buy 380s as Skymark's business is quite good," he told a news conference, stressing that the company would not borrow money or issue bonds or shares to pay for the planes.

Nishikubo, a former president of Japanese Internet service provider Zero who became Skymark chief in 2004, said the purchases would go ahead "if our business plan succeeds" and barring sharp currency fluctuations between the yen and weak dollar.

"We can make a decision on whether to raise the total purchase to 15 soon after we introduce our first Airbus 380s in 2014," he told AFP.

He said his company had yet to order Rolls-Royce engines for the A380s following a mid-air emergency involving an one of the aircraft operated by Australia's Qantas in which one of its turbines exploded.

"First, we have to carry out our own investigation carefully and then we will seek explanations from Rolls-Royce... next spring," he said. "But there is still a fair possibility that we will choose Rolls-Royce."

Skymark, founded in 1996, has just under 1,400 employees, according to its website, and now serves about three million passengers a year.

In recent weeks said it would hire about 470 former JAL employees as the struggling flag carrier has been forced to reduce its workforce as it undergoes state-led restructuring.

Nishikubo said there were no immediate plan to form an alliance with other airliners at home or overseas, and that the carrier had no other investment partners at the moment.

"Skymark is a crazy company," he said. "No one but I wants to invest massive funds in such a company."

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