Singapore will be connected to Okinawa for the first time following the signing of a major new bilateral agreement.
Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in March this year between the government of Okinawa prefecture and Singapore’s Changi Airport Group (CAG), it has now been agreed that both SilkAir and Jetstar will operate direct flights to the Japanese archipelago in the coming months.
Initially, 14 direct charter services between Changi Airport and Okinawa’s Naha Airport will be operated from September 2014 to January 2015. SilkAir has committed to 12 of these services, in a move that will mark the airline’s debut in Japan. A further two charter flights will be operated by Jetstar using its Asia and Japan subsidiaries.
“The non-stop flights will bring about greater comfort and convenience to our leisure and business travellers,” said Wong Woon Liong, senior advisor for CAG.
“With the elimination of a stopover, the total air journey between Singapore and Okinawa will be almost halved from 10 hours to slightly over five hours.
“Changi Airport Group is committed to working hand-in-hand with the Okinawa prefecture government to support airlines, travel agents and trade partners in establishing more non-stop charter services between Singapore and Okinawa, with a common and eventual goal of developing a scheduled passenger service between the two cities in the future,” he added.
The charter flights were announced during the visit of the vice governor of Okinawa, Yoshihisa Kawakami, to Singapore.
“The MoU between Changi Airport Group and Okinawa prefectural government was signed to tighten relations between Singapore and Okinawa. With this MoU, the goal is to establish Okinawa as the hub of Japan amongst businesses and travellers in Southeast Asia, and to also institute Singapore as the key travel hub to Okinawa in the region,” said Kawakami.
In addition to the flights, Okinawa is keen to promote tourism to Okinawa among Singaporeans, with areas of focus including eco-tourism, sports tourism and entertainment activities.
“Okinawa will be a very attractive travel destination for more than one billion people in the ASEAN region and beyond,” Kawakami added.