Routes Insights: Zipair Tokyo, Turkish Airlines And WestJet

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Zipair Tokyo, Turkish Airlines and WestJet plan to add new Asia-Pacific routes over the coming months.

Tokyo Narita-Vancouver

Zipair Tokyo will expand its long-haul network in March with service between Tokyo Narita and Vancouver International Airport, becoming the carrier’s fourth route across the Pacific.

Flights will start on March 13, operating three times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays through Oct. 26. The LCC will deploy Boeing 787-8 aircraft on the sector.

Zipair, which is a subsidiary of Japan Airlines Group, initially launched as a cargo-only operation in June 2020 due to the pandemic but began passenger service four months later. Since then, the airline has expanded its network to eight destinations from Tokyo Narita.

According to OAG Schedules Analyser data, the carrier provides daily flights to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Los Angeles, Manila, Seoul Incheon and Singapore Changi, as well as flying 6X-weekly to San Francisco, 5X-weekly to San Jose, and 4X-weekly to Honolulu.

The launch of its newest route—a 4,661-mi. (4,050-nm) flight to Vancouver—will see Zipair become the fourth airline to connect the destinations on a city-pair basis. Parent Japan Airlines flies daily NRT-YVR frequencies onboard 767 equipment, while Air Canada offers a daily 777-300ER service. Additionally, All Nippon Airways operates a daily flight between Tokyo Haneda and Vancouver using 787-9s.

Once Zipair enters the market, the number of two-way weekly seats between Tokyo and Vancouver will swell to 13,232, marking a rise of about 28% on 2019 levels. Zipair, which recently received its eighth 787-8 and expects two more to arrive in 2025, will have an 11.3% share of the market.


Turkish Airlines will make its long-awaited debut in Australia in March when the carrier launches a new one-stop service to Melbourne Airport (MEL).

The airline is set to commence its first service on March 1, operating three times per week between Istanbul and Melbourne via Singapore Changi Airport (SIN). Flights will initially use Boeing 777-300ER and 787-9 aircraft, before switching to Airbus A350-900 equipment from April onwards.

Flight times on the new route will vary over the coming months, but the layover in Singapore—a hub for Star Alliance partner Singapore Airlines—will be about 1 hr. 30 min. in both directions. Turkish Airlines will be the only European airline to fly to MEL once service begins, with the Victoria state capital becoming the 346th point in its network.

Preliminary data provided by Sabre Market Intelligence shows O&D traffic of 46,100 two-way passengers between Istanbul and Melbourne during 2023. This compares with about 32,400 in 2019 before the pandemic.

In December, the Australian government granted approval for an increase in the allowable number of weekly flights from Türkiye, boosting the limit from seven to 21. The expanded capacity is set to further rise to 28 flights per week starting from the northern winter season of 2024-25 and eventually to 35 flights per week from the winter season of 2025-26.

The approved frequencies cover flights to Australia's four major international gateways—Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney—along with the forthcoming Western Sydney International Airport, currently under construction and scheduled for opening in 2026. Additionally, the authorization includes fifth-freedom traffic rights at two locations in Asia or the Middle East.


Canadian airline WestJet is set to broaden its international reach in the summer of 2024 by adding Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN) to its network, marking the airline's second destination in the Asia-Pacific region.

The upcoming route, originating from the carrier’s hub at Calgary International Airport (YYC), will operate three times per week, commencing on May 17 and utilizing Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

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This expansion follows the launch of WestJet's services from Calgary to Tokyo Narita International Airport in April 2023—a move that aligns with the airline’s strategy to position YYC as a key intercontinental hub.

WestJet will become the third carrier to offer nonstop flights between Canada and South Korea, alongside Air Canada and Korean Air, but it will be the sole operator of Calgary-Seoul flights. The latest schedules filed with OAG show that both Air Canada and Korean Air serve ICN from Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport year-round, with WestJet also codesharing on the two Korean Air routes.

O&D traffic between Canada and South Korea totaled about 450,000 two-way passengers during 2023, according to Sabre data, with Vancouver-Seoul the top city-pair. Calgary-Seoul was the third largest, after Toronto-Seoul, despite the absence of nonstop service.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.

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