|Founded||Part 1: August 2011
Part 2: 1 July 2014
|Commenced operations||Part 1: 1 August 2012
Part 2: June 2015
|Ceased operations||Part 1: 27 October 2013 (to Vanilla Air)|
|Parent company||AirAsia (49%)|
|Key people||Tony Fernandes
|Operating income||JPY -3.3 billion (FY June 2013)|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to AirAsia Japan.|
AirAsia Japan Co., Ltd (エアアジア・ジャパン株式会社 Eāajia Japan Kabushiki-Gaisha) is the name of two incarnations of Japanese low-cost airline, operating as a joint venture between AirAsia of Malaysia and Japanese partners.
The first incarnation of AirAsia Japan, which operated from August 2012 to October 2013, was a joint venture between AirAsia and All Nippon Airways (ANA), at the time being the fifth subsidiary of AirAsia and the ninth of ANA. Its headquarters was in Shiodome City Center in Minato, Tokyo. AirAsia withdrew from the joint venture in 2013, and the airline was rebranded as Vanilla Air under the full ownership of ANA.
The second incarnation of AirAsia Japan, announced on July 1, 2014, saw AirAsia partnered with Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, the sporting goods company Alpen and other partners, to relaunch AirAsia Japan.
"Part 1": Joint-venture with All Nippon Airways (August 2012-October 2013)
Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia and Japanese network airline All Nippon Airways announced their joint venture at a press conference in Tokyo on July 21, 2011. Following its formal establishment in August 2011, the first flight for the airline was on August 1, 2012, from Tokyo Narita to Fukuoka.
The airline was headquartered alongside ANA in Tokyo, with its main operating base at Narita International Airport, and initially served domestic destinations utilizing the brand and service model of AirAsia. Future planned international destinations included the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan. AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes also indicated that the joint venture hub at Narita may serve as a connecting point between Southeast Asia and the United States within the AirAsia group network.
AirAsia Japan was the first low-cost airline to be based at Narita. Its formation was announced only months after ANA had announced the formation of Peach, a low-cost airline based at Kansai International Airport in Osaka, and alongside a concurrent effort by Japan Airlines to set up a low-cost affiliate. ANA elected to partner with an existing low-cost airline for efficiency and strategic advantage.
Termination of joint venture and re-branding as Vanilla Air
In June 2013, AirAsia decided to exit its investment in AirAsia Japan, making the company a wholly owned subsidiary of ANA. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported that AirAsia Japan had the lowest load factors of the three new entrant low-cost carriers in Japan and noted several reasons for the failure of the joint venture, including an online booking system that was not fully translated into Japanese and was therefore frustrating to many domestic customers, failure to utilize travel agent distribution (which is still a major component of domestic airline sales in Japan), the inconvenience of its main hub at Narita Airport, and the airport's severe restrictions on early morning and late night flights.
AirAsia Japan announced in August 2013 that it would continue operation under its current branding through October 26, 2013 and would then be rebranded as Vanilla Air effective November 1, 2013. Vanilla Air would start operations with two aircraft and expand to ten aircraft by fiscal year 2015, with both domestic and international routes. All of AirAsia Japan's staff were to be inherited by Vanilla Air, and the airline would focus on serving resort destinations, eventually expanding to longer routes after an initial focus on short-haul routes. AirAsia Japan aircraft were to be returned to AirAsia, with Vanilla Air to start with a fleet of only two aircraft.
AirAsia announced that it would start a new joint venture operation in Japan at a later date with a different partner, but the Nikkei reported that this seemed unlikely given foreign ownership restrictions and the fact that that the only seasoned Japanese airline operators outside of the ANA group are Japan Airlines, which had already invested in the Jetstar Japan joint venture, and Skymark Airlines, which was unlikely to get involved.
"Part 2": Re-entering the Japanese market
On July 1, 2014, it was announced that AirAsia has partnered with the online mall and travel agency Rakuten (to hold 18% of the stake), a Japanese cosmetics, energy drinks and aircraft leasing firm Noevir Holdings (9%), the sportswear firm Alpen (5%), and private equity firm Octave Japan (19%), to relaunch AirAsia Japan. AirAsia will hold 49% of the stake. Its initial is JPY7 billion (USD69 million), with Yoshinori Odagiri, CEO from the previous incarnation of AirAsia Japan, returns to chair. The airline is expected to commerce operation in summer 2015, from a hub at Chūbu Centrair International Airport with 2 Airbus A320 planes, expanding to 4 by the end of 2015.
- Nagoya - Chūbu Centrair International Airport
- Tokyo - Narita International Airport Main Hub
- Fukuoka - Fukuoka Airport
- Sapporo - New Chitose Airport
- Okinawa - Naha Airport
AirAsia Japan took delivery of its first aircraft in Toulouse, France on 9 June 2012.
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