A delay in the delivery of aircraft has forced the Japanese start-up Hokkaido International Airlines to postpone its launch of regular services until mid-1998. The airline's first aircraft, a new Boeing 767-300ER leased from Ansett Worldwide Aviation Services, was scheduled for delivery in February but will now be up to two months late.

The Sapporo-based company, also known as Air Do, had planned to start low-priced services three times weekly between Sapporo's Atami Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport on 25 April. The airline says that production hold-ups at Boeing, which have delayed aircraft delivery until March or April, have forced it to put back the start-up date to 1 July.

The airline adds that the start-up is so seriously concerned about the delivery delays that its planned acquisition of a further two 767s could be scrapped, and a different type of aircraft could be acquired if it were available for delivery sooner. "It looks as if we will not get the other two 767s before 1999, which is bound to cause a serious problem for us", says Hokkaido, but adds that as this switch would significantly increase maintenance costs, it will only be taken "as a last resort".

Source: Flight International