FREMANTLE may be the ace in the pack which secures Japan Airlines’ first direct flights between Tokyo and Perth.
Officially the airline is saying it hasn’t made a decision—it is tossing up whether to fly into Perth or Brisbane—but Fremantle chamber of commerce CEO Tim Milsom has been getting on with a company vice-president like a house on fire and says he’s been given the tip it’ll be Perth in about 18 months. About 10 weeks ago WA’s tourism commission asked Mr Milsom to escort JAL’s vice-pres of network planning Kiyoto Morioka around Fremantle.
The pair hit it off and when Mr Milsom was in Japan last week finding out about waste-to-energy plants, he dropped in to JAL to further cement the relationship.
He says his hospitality was repaid in spades, despite it being a public holiday: “We had a really honest meeting and told him we think there is a demand, and I asked him ‘what more do we need to do?’.”
He says the response was JAL would trial-charter a jumbo into Perth in about 18 months before committing its own planes.
“They are really interested in Freo as an area because of its beaches and open spaces, much more than they are in Perth,” Mr Milsom says.
JAL’s Tokyo-based press officer Jian Yang hosed things down a little, saying no decision has yet been made.
by STEVE GRANT