Royal Brunei Airlines launched a new service connecting the Brunei capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, with Tokyo Narita on Friday, March 15, but has also pushed back the launch of its new service to Changsha in China’s Hunan province until the middle of next month.
The airline’s return to Japan marks the first time in more than two decades that the two countries have had a non-stop air connection.
Flights to Tokyo operate three times per week on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, departing Bandar Seri Begawan at 0030 and arriving in Tokyo Narita at 0730. The return flight departs Tokyo at 1145 and arrives back in Brunei at 1710 that afternoon.
According to Royal Brunei’s CEO, Karam Chand, Royal Brunei made “a very conscious decision to select the Airbus A320neo as the aircraft of choice for our markets, including medium-haul markets like Tokyo”. The aircraft has allowed the carrier to launch routes of up to seven hours in duration, which had previously been “the domain of widebody aircraft”, Chand added.
Royal Brunei took delivery of its first A320neo in May last year and is expected to receive a seven of the new aircraft in total.
As with the airline’s older A320s, the new aircraft features two classes in total. Business class comprises 12 seats laid out in a 2-2 formation and each offering a pitch (legroom) of 42 inches, a width of 22.7 inches and a 10-inch recline. Seats also have in-seat power and 10.4-inch personal screens.
Unlike the older A320s, the A320neos also feature 18 preferred seats located from rows 21 to 23, which offer additional legroom (32 inches) compared to the economy cabin (30 inches).
“The A320 family of aircraft is becoming the aircraft of choice for new long thin markets and Royal Brunei is one of the leading airlines to leverage this on the Tokyo route and soon Brisbane and Beijing,” added Chand.
The Tokyo service is one of a number of revived routes being launched by Royal Brunei. The airline returned to Taipei last year and plans to relaunch its Brisbane flights this June after an absence of about eight years. Meanwhile its return to Beijing has been in the offing since late 2017.
Fortunately for travellers, the delay to the airline’s previously announced flights to Changsha are far less severe than those affecting its Beijing service.
Royal Brunei announced today on its website that it will be pushing back the launch date of the Changsha service by just two weeks, from April 2 this year to April 16, citing “operational reasons”.
Royal Brunei Airlines now flies to 24 international destinations.