Japan Airlines is preparing to apply for an air operator's certificate for its new long-haul, low-cost subsidiary in the coming weeks, and is confident that the carrier is on track to launch by 2020.

The Oneworld airline has also set up a new holding company called T.B.L Company (To Be Launched) for the new carrier, says the latter's director and executive officer Hiroyuki Uehara at the Aviation Festival Asia conference in Singapore.

He adds that while T.B.L will be fully-owned by JAL, it does not rule out other investors coming onboard as "a business partner".

"The long-haul low-cost market is our (JAL's) next area for growth. If we stick to the full-service model, we have no reach to the price-sensitive market."

T.B.L will receive two Boeing 787-8s from JAL in its first year of operations. These aircraft will be reconfigured to fit T.B.L's business plan.

Thereafter, the plan is for the long-haul, low-cost unit to take two 787-8s annually for the next four years and to end its first five years of operations with 10 aircraft. No decision has been made on whether T.B.L will make its own aircraft order, or continue to take jets from its parent.

On its network plan, Uehara says that T.B.L will be based at Tokyo Narita International airport, where there are still good nighttime slots. The carrier intends to operate flights around a nine-hour range, and has targeted the US West Coast as a key market.

However, he says that ETOPS approval will only be attained after the first year of operations. As such, T.B.L will initially operate to points in Asia.

Uehara adds that JAL may transfer some routes to T.B.L, while the latter may also open new routes unserved by its parent.

"The long-haul, low-cost segment from Japan is still a 'blue ocean' market, with few airlines doing trans-pacific routes."

Media reports say that T.B.L's registered name is "Zipair". However, Uehara declined to comment on whether the airline's name has been set.

Source: Cirium Dashboard