Japanese budget carrier Peach Aviation Ltd will cut back its flights in the next months to October due to a lack of pilots.
Peach said it was reducing flights on eight domestic and two international routes, including service from its base of Kansai Airport to Fukuoka and South Korea’s Incheon Airport.
A total of 448 flights in May and June, including 44 international services connecting Osaka with Seoul and Hong Kong, have already been cancelled, affecting around 16,000 passengers. Peach has begun issuing refunds to ticket holders or rescheduling them for different flights, the company said.
Between May to October, the number of cancellations could reach 2,088, affecting around 16 percent of the carrier’s flights as well as 26,000 passengers.
The airline, an affiliate of All Nippon Airways Co, had planned to expand services through July, with two additional planes bringing its total to 13. But eight of its 52 pilots had dropped from the roster due to injury or illness. The company also missed its hiring target this spring.
The flight reductions are expected to put a 3 billion yen ($28.9 million) dent on revenues.
Peach CEO Shinichi Inoue apologized at a press conference in Tokyo, saying the carrier went ahead of itself in its bid to expand operations. The company could not promote co-pilots or recruit new crew as planned.
“We’re going to be careful in how we plan our business, including when it comes to keeping our crews healthy,” Inoue said.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: “Peach Airline” by Chun-Hung Eric Cheng/Flickr