Private flights on HondaJet will be offered for local airports

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With only about 60 business jets operating in Japan, the Honda Motor Co. Group is seeking a new mobility service using its light business jet rather than seeking deep-pocketed buyers.

Instead, Honda plans to launch a transportation service for passengers wishing to travel between local airports in Japan.

The move is aimed at increasing sales of Honda Aircraft Co.’s business jet, which Honda has spent some 30 years developing.

Still, it’s unclear how well the new offer will be accepted in Japan, given that business jet travel is rare in the country.

QUIET AND STABLE DRIVING

A demonstration flight on the HondaJet Elite – a model to be used for the planned program – was proposed on September 21. The plane left Kumamoto Airport just after noon bound for Oita Airport.

While the six-passenger jet can fly at altitudes of up to 13,000 meters, it flew around 4,000 meters above the ground that day.

Winds were strong immediately after a typhoon, but the HondaJet did not rock hard. The quiet environment inside allowed passengers to comfortably carry on conversations.

The plane arrived at its destination as passengers enjoyed the stunning views of the vast Mount Aso below.

The jet ride took 40 minutes, although reaching Oita Airport from Kumamoto Airport by car requires a journey of about two and a half hours.

INCREASE CUSTOMER BASE

The development of the HondaJet began in 1986, when Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda, wanted to see “an aircraft created by Japanese people”.

After being certified by US aviation authorities, the HondaJet hit the market in 2015.

The HondaJet has a range of 2,661 kilometers at a maximum cruising speed of 782 km/h, which means it can cover the length of the Japanese mainland from one end to the other.

Approximately 220 units were sold worldwide to customers primarily in the United States. Among the owners of the HondaJet is a rival in the automotive industry: Toyota Motor Corp.

Honda Aircraft announced on October 18 that it would launch the HondaJet Elite II, the fourth HondaJet model, in the United States.

A challenge with the HondaJet is that only a limited number of customers can afford its hefty price tag of $5.28 million (approximately 800 million yen), while particular emphasis is not placed on the profitability of the engine. ‘company.

The department suffering a succession of losses, it became urgent for Honda to conquer new customers.

However, a Honda executive said it was difficult to have “conventional corporate customers with multiple units to increase their total flight time to improve sales”.

Therefore, Honda is seeking to introduce a transit service under which passengers will be transported on a HondaJet operated by Honda Airways Co., a group company.

Reservations will be accepted on a specialized website, and limousines, rental cars and other means of transport will also be available under the program.

Pricing has yet to be determined, but a Honda official said pricing “will be at competitive levels with offerings from other companies.”

From October, a trial began with a view to its future commercialization.

The planned service is expected to be used by local business executives and other government officials for business trips. It will also cater to doctors visiting remote islands, while goods will also be shipped under the scheme.

Since traveling by land takes a long time in many parts of Japan, a country filled with many mountains, Honda predicts the new flight service is needed.

“The new service will offer more flexible flight plans than regular airline flights,” said Daisuke Inoue, head of the mobility services planning division of Honda’s new business development department. “We will work to bring the service to Japan, helping to improve transportation productivity.”

IMOPULARITY, CARBON FOOTPRINTS

Fewer business jets are used in Japan than in other countries.

Department of Transport data shows business jets departed and arrived at domestic airports 13,700 times in 2021, up 18% from 10 years earlier. This figure, however, is much lower than that of other countries.

About 21,000 business jets are owned in the United States. The figures for Canada and Germany are 1,300 and 730, compared to no more than 60 in Japan.

There are more super rich people who can afford private jets in the United States. The country’s huge landmass means traveling by business jet is more convenient than other forms of transportation.

In Japan, the high-speed Shinkansen and expressway networks are well developed. As a result, owning business jets is less necessary than in other countries.

Few passengers taking business jets result in expensive charter service fares: the hourly rate for a flight costs more than 1 million yen, more than double that of the United States.

The global transition to decarbonization deals an additional blow to small jets that consume large amounts of fossil fuels. Business jets carrying fewer passengers have a greater environmental impact per passenger than large passenger aircraft.

Senior government officials and business people from around the world discuss global issues at the annual World Economic Forum, also known as the Davos Forum, and their jet trips have come under criticism on several occasions.

The HondaJet is expected to run on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in the future, which emits less carbon dioxide than petroleum-derived fuel.

A joint venture between Honda and General Electric Co. of the United States announced on Oct. 18 that its jet engine using 100 percent SAF showed performance equivalent to that of the same engine using normal jet fuel in ground tests.

“SAF will help us solve problems related to decarbonization,” said a senior Honda official.

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