Skymark launched in 1996 after airline deregulation in Japan. The carrier grew rapidly but in recent years has been impacted by significant growth in the number of low cost carriers in Japan and by the falling Japanese currency. Since 2010, Skymark had planned to become an A380 operator. Their aim was to charge fares between Japan and Europe/USA that were less than half of those of its competitors thus winning market share over them. Skymark signed a firm contract for four A380s in 2011, and then added two more in June 2011.
In April, 2014 Skymark’s first A380 performed its maiden flight with the plane’s tail clealry painted with Skymark’s signature yellow star against a blue background.
The A380 was heading for cabin installation and final painting in Germany when it became increasingly clear that the airline was probably struggling to afford the order. Negotiations came to an end in July 2014, when Airbus terminated the A380 order, a blow for both Airbus (who need more A380 customers) and Skymark.
Financial losses mounted for Skymark through 2014 leading to their bankruptcy.
Delta, over the last few months, had been considering leading the Skymark turn around plan. Delta have had a realtionship with Skymark through its ‘s frequent flyer program since 2011 and has also managed their engine maintenance.
If Delta had succeeded it would have given them a significant foothold in the Japanese market with Skymark becoming their Japanese domestic code-share partner allowing connections to and from Delta’s international network. Competitor Japan Airlines (JAL) is a One World carrier and All Nippon Airways (ANA) is part of the Star Alliance.
ANA has won creditor backing, however, to lead the turnaround. This victory gives Japan’s largest carrier access to Skymark’s 36 landing slots at Tokyo Haneda airport, increasing it’s domestic dominance over Japan Airlines. It does reduce competition in the country and means Delta has lost an opportunity to gain a bigger presence in Japan.
- The Return of JAL
- For Sale: Malaysia’s Six Airbus 380s
- Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and A380 at Farnborough