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Mori May Boost Helicopter Service for Tokyo-Narita

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A helicopter arrives at the Akasaka Ark Hill Building
Au undated handout photograph shows a helicopter arriving at the heliport on the Akasaka Ark Hills Building in Tokyo. Source: Mori Building City Air Services Co. via Bloomberg

July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Mori Building City Air Services Co., the operator of a helicopter service between downtown Tokyo and Narita airport, may add a third aircraft after tie-ups with airlines boosted traffic.

The unit of Mori Building Co., Japan’s biggest closely held developer, may add an eight-seat helicopter to its two existing four-seaters, Koichi Ueno, a managing director, said in an interview in Tokyo today, without giving a timeframe. The helicopter service pares travel times from downtown Tokyo to Narita to about 30 minutes, he said.

Mori has doubled monthly passenger numbers since starting flights in September after American Airlines, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Alitalia SpA and Japan Airlines Corp. joined All Nippon Airways Co. in offering the service to business and first-class passengers. East Japan Railway Co.’s Narita Express train takes about an hour to make the almost 80-kilometer (50-mile) trip from Tokyo station to Japan’s busiest international airport.

“The fact that airlines are willing to provide the service to business passengers should boost its appeal,” said Yasuhiro Matsumoto, an analyst at Shinsei Securities Co. in Tokyo. “It may draw executives working for big companies.”

The helicopter service aims to make a profit in three years, according to Ueno.

Bond Price Gains

Narita, which handled 32 million passengers last year, is improving connections as Tokyo’s other airport, Haneda, expands capacity with the opening of a new runway in October.

Keisei Electric Railway Co. added a faster link to Narita airport last week, reducing the trip to Nippori on the loop line of Tokyo’s city-rail system to as little as 36 minutes. Trains from Haneda reach the loop line in as little as 16 minutes.

Mori Building’s most-recent bonds have gained since they were issued earlier this year, indicating increasing investor appetite for the property developer’s debt.

The price of the 1.39 percent note maturing in April 2013 rose to 100.181 yen as of yesterday, compared with 99.804 yen on April 30, pushing the yield down 14 basis points to 1.32 percent, according to the Japan Securities Dealers Association. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

Mori Building City Air flies passengers to Sakura airport, near Narita, from Ark Hills Heliport in downtown Tokyo. After the 15-minute flight, passengers take a 15-minute limousine ride to Narita, according to the company’s website.

Passengers Double

A one-way ticket costs 45,000 yen ($516). Some airlines offer free rides to some business-class and first-class customers. Passenger numbers have climbed to as many as 300 a month from around 150 when the service started, Ueno said.

“We’re getting a lot of repeaters on our service,” Ueno said. “Narita is a long way from central Tokyo and the trip used to take a lot of time.”

Business travel has risen this year as the global economy recovers from recession. Worldwide premium air traffic, which includes first and business class, grew 19 percent in May from a year earlier, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Premium traffic increased 11 percent in the first five months of this year, compared with a year earlier, IATA said earlier this month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Cooper in Tokyo at ccooper1@bloomberg.net; Kiyotaka Matsuda in Tokyo at kmatsuda@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net

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