AirAsia Japan launched its first ever flights today (Wednesday 1 August), connecting to three destinations in Japan from Tokyo’s Narita airport.
The new low-cost carrier’s inaugural flight to Fukuoka took off at 0700 this morning, followed shortly by the first ever service to Sapporo at 0745. The inaugural flight to the southern resort island of Okinawa will take off at 1845 this evening.
“This is a dream come true for all of us at AirAsia,” said the airline’s Group CEO, Tony Fernandes. “I have always believed in dreaming the impossible, but seeing AirAsia Japan’s inaugural flights take-off today puts a smile on my face. It has only been one year since we announced AirAsia Japan’s establishment and now we already have two aircraft, 243 staff in Japan and three domestic routes on the day we start our operations.”
AirAsia Japan, which is a joint venture between Malaysia’ AirAsia and Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA), marks the latest stage in Japan’s low-cost aviation revolution. In March this year ANA launched its first low-cost carrier, Peach Aviation, which is now operating both domestic and short-haul international flights from Osaka. And just last month the Qantas-JAL joint venture, Jetstar Japan, took to the skies.
Competing directly with Jetstar Japan, AirAsia Japan will initially operate three daily flights to Sapporo, twice daily services to Fukuoka and daily flights to Okinawa. Services to the Korean cities of Seoul and Busan are expected to commence in October. Like Jetstar Japan and Peach, AirAsia Japan will operate a fleet of all-economy Airbus A320 aircraft.
The launch also marks the continuing expansion of the AirAsia brand, which now has five regional subsidiaries. Earlier this year Tony Fernandes’ group launched operations in the Philippines, and just last week announced plans to expand its presence in Indonesia with the acquisition of Batavia Air.
Pictured (from left): Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X, Kazuyuki Iwakata, CEO of AirAsia Japan, Yuuichi Hata, Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism, and Kensaku Morita, the Governor of Chiba.