AirAsia’s Japanese sector is making a comeback. AirAsia Japan announced on Monday, October 16 that it will begin its first flights later this month. The first routes will be served out of Nagoya. The announcement comes two years after AirAsia Bhd, based in Malaysia, announced plans to re-enter the Japanese market with new partners.
“We are honored to be the first airline to be based in Nagoya’s Chubu Centrair International Airport and we are committed to connecting as many guests as possible at low fares to AirAsia’s extensive network, as well as bridging communities and cultures for the benefit of the local economy,” said AirAsia Japan CEO Osamu Hata. “It is a great pleasure to announce AirAsia Japan’s first route from Nagoya to Sapporo is open for sale.”
“It’s great to be back in Japan,” said Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia Group. “It hasn’t been easy. Many people thought we would give up and not bother but we owe it to the people of Japan and our staff to keep going. This took a long time but, like good wine, all good things take time and we are off the taxiway and ready to take off.”
Besides AirAsia, which owns 49% of AirAsia Japan, partners helping to operate the airline include Rakuten Inc., Octave Japan Infrastructure Fund, Noveir Holdings, and Alpen Co. Those four hold 51% stake in the airline collectively.
“With new partners who share our vision, I have no doubt that AirAsia is poised to become an important part of how people fly in Japan,” said Fernandes.
AirAsia Japan fist received its air operator’s certificate in 2015. It was supposed to launch in 2016, but decided to wait until now for final regulatory approvals. In the meantime, Jetstar Japan announced plans to open a base at Nagoya in 2018.
AirAsia Japan is entering a market already saturated with low-cost carriers like itself. It will face competition from Vanilla and Peach, ANA’s low-cost carriers, and Jetstar Japan, a joint venture between Japan Airways and Qantas Airways.
The previous attempt at AirAsia Japan was dissolved in 2013 and used as the basis for the launch of ANA subsidiary Vanilla Air. The first AirAsia Japan was created with ANA Holdings.
AirAsia currently owns two Airbus SE A320 narrowbody aircraft that are based in Nagoya. Its first service is a twice-daily service between Nagoya and Sapporo, which are set to begin on October 29. Aviation Week reports that a second route between Nagoya and Taipei is planned, though timing for the route has not been revealed.
AirAsia is offering a special promotional fare from ¥5 (USD$0.04) for bookings made between October 17 and October 20 for travel between October 29, 2017 and march 24, 2018. Normal fares start at ¥4190 (USD$38.10).
Featured image by Kentaro Lesoto via Wikimedia Commons