Skymark Airlines

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Skymark Airlines
Sukai Māku
Skymark Airlines Logo.svg
Founded 1996
Commenced operations 19 September 1998
Focus cities Tokyo Haneda Airport
Kobe Airport
Naha Airport
New Chitose Airport
Fukuoka Airport
Fleet size 35
Destinations 14
Headquarters Haneda Airport, Ōta, Tokyo, Japan
Key people Takashi Ide (Chairman)
Shinichi Nishikubo (President and CEO)[1]
Revenue \85.9 billion (FY March 2013)[2]
Operating income \4.7 billion (FY March 2013)[2]
Net income \3.8 billion (FY March 2013)[2]
Total assets \74.2 billion (March 2013)[2]
Total equity \46.8 billion (March 2013)[2]
Employees 2,293 (June 2013)[3]

Skymark Airlines Inc. (スカイマーク株式会社 Sukaimāku Kabushiki-gaisha?) TYO: 9204 is a low-cost airline headquartered at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) in Ōta, Tokyo, Japan,[1] operating scheduled passenger services within Japan. In addition to its base at Haneda, Skymark is the dominant carrier at Kobe Airport[4] and is the only domestic airline operating at Ibaraki Airport north of Tokyo. As of March 2013, its largest shareholder is CEO Shinichi Nishikubo (30.57%).[5]


Skymark Airlines was established in November 1996 as an independent domestic airline after deregulation of the Japanese airline industry and started operations on 19 September 1998.[1] It was originally established by a consortium of investors led by the travel agency H.I.S. and headed by H.I.S. president Hideo Sawada. The airline incurred considerable losses in its first few years of operations. It briefly considered a recapitalization led by Commerzbank but decided not to accept such an investment due to Air Do's issues with banks interfering in management. In August 2003, Sawada invited internet entrepreneur Shinichi Nishikubo to become Skymark's largest shareholder with a personal cash investment of 3.5 billion yen (having made around 9 billion yen from the IPO of his internet company in 2000).[6]

On 11 December 2003, Skymark announced that it expected a profit of 470 million yen for the half-fiscal year ending on 31 October, the first profit made since the airline began operations.[7]

It acquired seven Boeing 767-200 and Boeing 767-300 widebody aircraft between 1998 and 2005. Some 767 fuselages were painted in special "billboard" liveries advertising third party companies, including Yahoo Japan,[8] Microsoft[9] and USEN.[10] Skymark began acquiring new Boeing 737-800 narrowbody aircraft in 2005 and eventually retired the 767 from its fleet in 2009.[11]

Skymark purchased the naming rights for the Kobe Sports Park Baseball Stadium from 2005 to 2010.

Skymark had a code sharing partnership with Japan Airlines on the Tokyo Haneda-Kobe route from Kobe Airport's opening in 2006.[12] JAL withdrew from Kobe in 2010, while Skymark developed Kobe into a secondary base.[13]

Skymark announced in April 2010 that it would commence a "Narita Shuttle" service from Narita International Airport to Asahikawa, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Okinawa in late 2011 and early 2012.[14]

Shift to premium service[edit]

Skymark began to face stiff competition from a new group of low-cost carriers in Japan beginning in 2012, particularly at its Narita base which is also a base for AirAsia Japan and Jetstar Japan. This led to a reduction in Skymark's frequencies on highly contested routes such as Narita-Sapporo and Narita-Fukuoka, and a refocusing of aircraft on more exclusive routes such as Narita-Ishigaki.[15]

On 8 November 2010 Skymark announced negotiations with Airbus for an order of four Airbus A380 aircraft and two options, making it the first Japanese airline to order the type.[16][17][18] This order was confirmed as definite during February 2011. The airline announced its intent to use the aircraft on long-haul trunk routes out of Narita Airport such as London, Frankfurt, Paris and New York, and that they would be operated in a two-class, 394-seat configuration — with 114 seats in business class and 280 in a premium economy class. Business Class will be equipped with angled lie-flat seats at 60 in (1,500 mm) pitch and 20.7 in (530 mm) width, while "shell-style" seats at 38 in (970 mm) pitch and 20.5 in (520 mm) width will be offered in Premium Economy.[19]

Skymark executed leases for seven Airbus A330-300 aircraft in July 2012, with delivery scheduled from 2014 through 2015.[20] Skymark announced in June 2013 that it would outfit these aircraft in a 271-seat single-class premium configuration with 38-inch seat pitch and 22-inch seat width, tentatively called "Green Seats" and comparable to the domestic "Class J" offering on Japan Airlines,[21] to win market share among business travelers on the key domestic trunk routes from Tokyo to Fukuoka and Sapporo.[22] Regular full fares for these flights, which have always been lower than on JAL and ANA, will remain the same but advance-purchase discount fares will be increased by around 5%.[15] A330 flight attendants will wear miniskirt uniforms, in contrast to Skymark's usual polo shirt uniforms, for the first six months of operation of each route.[23] Skymark also had plans to install "Green Seat" cabins on its 737 fleet to create a 2-class configuration[24] but cancelled the plan in early 2014 in favor of keeping a single-class 737 fleet for competition with other LCCs.[25]

As of June 2013, Skymark planned to take delivery of its first A330 in January 2014 and its first A380 in August 2014. Skymark took delivery of an A330 flight simulator for pilot training in February 2013.[2]

In early February 2014, Skymark announced that it would downsize the Narita operation to only three destinations (Sapporo, Yonago and Okinawa). Nishikubo stated that the base lost money in every month except August and that all LCCs were under pressure there. Skymark plans to re-deploy 737s from the Narita base as well as Haneda-based 737s replaced by A330s, for charter services to destinations such as Guam. He also expressed some reservations about the A330 fleet plan, stating that while the airline had funding in place for the first two aircraft, the third and subsequent deliveries could be impacted by the performance of Skymark's domestic operation as well as the success of its initial international service.[26] In July 2014, Airbus announced it had terminated Skymark's order for A380 planes citing concerns over the airline's ability to fund the purchase in light of its poor financial performance. Nishikubo complained the airline was not given the opportunity to revise the contract, it simply received a fax notifying it of the termination.[27]

JAL/ANA partnership talks[edit]

Skymark announced in November 2014 that it was exploring a cooperative relationship with Japan Airlines under which Skymark's 36 daily round trips to and from Haneda Airport would be code shared with JAL, subject to approval by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The partnership would bring JAL's domestic market share at Haneda closer to that of its rival All Nippon Airways, which places its code on a majority of domestic flights to and from Haneda through its partnerships with Air Do, StarFlyer and Solaseed Air. JAL has been subject to restrictions on new investments and routes following its 2012 corporate restructuring, which restrictions remain valid through 2016, and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has shown favorable treatment to ANA as its rival Democratic Party of Japan oversaw the bailout of JAL, making the regulatory response to this partnership uncertain.[28] ANA also later indicated interest in cooperation with Skymark. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported in December that the Ministry would limit JAL/ANA cooperation with Skymark to a period of five years in order to preserve competition in the domestic market, where Skymark is the last remaining independent challenger to ANA and JAL.[29]


Skymark headquarters at Tokyo International Airport
Check-in counters at Kansai International Airport

As of January 2014, Skymark Airlines operated scheduled flights to the following destinations:[citation needed]

Former destinations[edit]

Future destinations[edit]

In 2013, Skymark ordered six Airbus A380s and wanted to fly them to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, Heathrow Airport in London and Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt. However, due to financial losses and difficulties, the A380s have been cancelled by Airbus.[30]


A Skymark Boeing 737-800 landing at Haneda Airport (2007)
A Skymark Airbus A330-300 at Fukuoka Airport(2014)

Originally, Skymark had placed an order with Airbus for six A380 'superjumbo' aircraft. The order was recently terminated completely, due to financial reasons of introducing such an expensive airliner. "The Centre for Aviation (CAPA), an airlines consultancy, has warned that Skymark could encounter "significant losses" if it put the A380 into service." [31]

As of December 2014, the Skymark Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft, with an average age of 3.1 years:[32]

Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
J Y+ Y Total
Airbus A330-300 5 5 0 271 0 271 Based and fly from Haneda
Boeing 737-800 30 10 0 0 177 177 To be leased from (6) Ryanair, (4) Garuda Indonesia
Total 35 15

Frequent flyer program[edit]

Skymark planned to introduce a frequent flyer program in January 2014 to coincide with the launch of its premium domestic service.[21] They delayed as of December 2013 to focus on preparing for international service in December 2014.[33]

Although Skymark did have its own frequent flyer program as of 2013, it has provided award seats to members of the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program since June 2011.[34]


Skymark is under fire over its decision to put female flight attendants in a new uniform of daringly short minidresses.

The airline has been accused of inviting sexual harassment and treating women like a commodity after unveiling the high-hemmed outfit for its female staff. The new uniform consists of a short, fitted 1960s style minidress in royal blue, accessorised with large yellow neck bows, small hats, sheer tights and heels. Criticisms were led by the Japan Federation of Cabin Attendants, which issued a statement opposing the length of the new dresses and questioning the budget airline’s motivation behind such a move.

Highlighting its concern that the uniform could invite sexual harassment, it read: “We’re concerned that the design of this uniform may cause problems. The airline is saying the uniform is meant to attract more customers, but this shows the company is treating women like a commodity.” Fears of passengers leering at cabin attendant’s legs or taking pictures up their skirts with a mobile phone were among a string of concerns posted in comments onto the union’s website.

On a practical level, there were queries as to how the staff would be able to fulfill their duties, such as bending over, serving food and reaching above their heads while wearing such short skirts. The airline has disputed the union’s claims that the uniform is inappropriate and plans to introduce it as a temporary promotion during the launch of domestic routes by its Airbus A330 planes from this spring. Emphasising that the dresses would be used by staff for only six months, Tatsuya Kishi, a Skymark spokesman, told the Telegraph: “The uniforms will not interfere with security or public peace.” Shinichi Nishikubo, president of Skymark, also told reporters: “We won’t impose the uniform on any of the cabin attendants who refuse to wear it. It is disappointing that the outfit designed in part for the ad campaign is being seen in a distorted way.” [35]


  1. ^ a b c "About Us." Skymark Airlines. Retrieved on 8 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "2013年3月期 決算説明会". スカイマーク株式会社. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "[会社概要]". Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "神戸空港利用状況(H23....5月)". Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  5. ^ 日本経済新聞. "9204 スカイマーク(株) (スカイマーク) 企業プロフィル". Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  6. ^ 立木, 奈美 (24 September 2003). "スカイマーク救済の舞台裏/35億円を個人出資した西久保愼一氏の真意". Nikkei BP. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
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  9. ^ "Photos: Boeing 767-3Q8/ER Aircraft Pictures". 13 December 1998. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  10. ^ "Photos: Boeing 767-3Q8/ER Aircraft Pictures". 7 December 2002. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  11. ^ "Skymark Airlines former fleet at". Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "New Domestic Airports To Boost JAL’s Domestic Network". Japan Airlines. 30 January 2006. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  13. ^ "Skymark #3 in Japanese domestic market; new routes focus on developing Kobe as hub". 8 January 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  14. ^ "[プレスリリース:「成田シャトル」構想を発表 成田−旭川・札幌(新千歳)・那覇・福岡まで980円より]". Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "スカイマークがLCC対抗策 高級席導入・競合路線減便". 日本経済新聞. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "Skymark A380 press release" (PDF). Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  17. ^ 2 August 2012. "Airbus press release regarding Skymark A380 Memorandum of Understanding". Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  18. ^ "UPDATE 2-Skymark Airlines orders Japan's first Airbus A380s". Reuters. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2010. 
  19. ^ "Skymark May Order 15 Airbus A380s in International Expansion". Bloomberg. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
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  24. ^ Yoshikawa, Tadayuki (11 June 2013). "スカイマーク、A330は上級「グリーンシート」のみ 737は2クラスへ". Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  25. ^ "スカイマーク、737型機の改装見送り 低価格路線を維持". 日本経済新聞. 12 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  26. ^ Yoshikawa, Tadayuki (3 February 2014). "スカイマーク、余剰737はチャーター活用 成田縮小、羽田は増便". Aviation Wire. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  27. ^ "Deal called off for delivery of Airbus A380 to Japanese airliner". The Japan News.Net. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  28. ^ "羽田陣取り、雲の中 「スカイマーク・日航」に国交相慎重". Nihon Keizai Shimbun. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  29. ^ "スカイマークの共同運航「5年限り」 国交省". Nihon Keizai Shimbun. 12 December 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  30. ^ "London to be second Skymark long-haul destination". Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Skymark Airlines fleet". Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  33. ^ Yoshikawa, Tadayuki (8 December 2013). "スカイマーク、マイル導入を延期". Aviation Wire. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  34. ^ "[プレスリリース:スカイマーク デルタ航空 特典交換プログラムへの座席提供について". Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  35. ^ Demetriou, Danielle (13 March 2014). "Japanese airline criticised over minidresses for female cabin attendants". telegraph. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 

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