Japan's first dedicated express freight airline is planning to launch services in October operating Raytheon Beech 1900C freighters on domestic routes.

The carrier, Orange Cargo, is being launched by local businessman Yasumasa Ishada. Executive vice president Kosuke Uematsu says it plans to start operations with four 1900Cs in cargo configuration that it will lease from the manufacturer.

Orange Cargo will be headquartered in Nagoya and its operations base will be in Tokyo. The carrier plans to initially operate night flights between Tokyo Haneda Airport and Kagoshima, and between Haneda and Nagasaki. At a later stage the airline will operate to remote islands by day.

The carrier plans to file for an operating licence in June and hopes to secure slots at busy Haneda Airport in August. Slots are in short supply at Haneda, which primarily handles domestic traffic, but the government has said it will set some aside for new entrants.

Uematsu says Orange Cargo believes there will be strong demand for overnight express-freight movements by air, as the geographical nature of Japan - with its many islands - means packages cannot be delivered as quickly via surface transport.

Source: Flight International