ANA Group and AirAsia have announced plans to form a new Japanese low-cost carrier, AirAsia Japan. The new entity will be the first LCC to be based at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, and will serve both domestic and international routes when operations commence in August 2012, subject to obtaining the relevant approvals.
Shinichiro Ito, President & CEO of ANA said; “By combining AirAsia’s business model and brand with ANA’s depth of knowledge of the Japanese market, we aim to bring new value to our customers, offer diverse and enjoyable travel experiences, and generate new demand. We believe that AirAsia Japan will make air travel more accessible and provide a convenient and efficient travel option for a wide range of people.”
Dr Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia added; “AirAsia Japan will not only boost economic growth between ASEAN and East Asia by providing better access to markets around the region, but also enhance links within travel, trade and tourism. AirAsia is proud to be identified as a low-cost carrier partner to ANA, a very respected, credible and successful airline in Japan. This new joint venture is an important milestone in AirAsia’s growth as ANA is the very first airline partner to form a joint venture with AirAsia.”
The move appears to further strengthen ANA’s grip on the Japanese aviation market. Since JAL’s January 2010 bankruptcy and subsequent slashing of routes, ANA has emerged as the country’s largest airline, in terms of passenger numbers. ANA has already committed to establishing one low-cost carrier in Japan – Peach Aviation – which will launch both domestic and international services from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport in March 2011. In a statement released today however, ANA said that it had been “seeking opportunities to launch a new low-cost business based at Narita”.
For AirAsia meanwhile, today’s announcement marks the culmination of a long-held ambition to enter the Japanese aviation market. The Malaysian LCC launched flights to Tokyo in December last year following a long and protracted saga, but initial plans to open multiple routes to destination such as Fukuoka, Hokkaido and Osaka never materialised.
AirAsia Japan will be officially established as a company next month and intends to apply for its Air Operator’s Certificate in September or October this year. The first flight has been pencilled in for August 2012.
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