AirAsia Japan Starts Flying as Budget Lines Take on ANA, JAL

AirAsia Japan Co. became the third budget airline to start flights in the country this year, stepping up competition with full-service operators.

The first service left Tokyo’s Narita airport on time at 7 a.m. and arrived at Fukuoka at 9 a.m., according to a statement from the company, which is part-owned by AirAsia Bhd. (AIRA), the region’s biggest discount airline. There were 118 passengers and six crew on the Airbus SAS A320, it said.

The airline is offering fares at less than half the price of Japan Airlines Co. (9202) and All Nippon Airways Co. as it seeks to fly 10 million passengers annually within five years. Its debut follows the start of flights by Peach Aviation Ltd. in March and by Jetstar Japan Co. last month.

“We want to create demand for flying that didn’t exist before,” Chief Executive Officer Kazuyuki Iwakata told reporters at Tokyo’s Narita airport today. “We want to change Japan’s skies so people can catch a flight like taking a bus to go and get lunch.”

AirAsia Japan, which also offers flights to Sapporo in northern Japan and Naha in the south of the country, aims to add overseas flights to South Korea from October, Iwakata said.

The carrier may also start flights from Nagoya to Fukuoka, Sapporo and Naha from next year, he said.

AirAsia Japan intends to build a fleet of at least 30 planes within five years. All Nippon has a stake in the airline and in Peach Aviation. Jetstar Japan’s shareholders include Japan Air and Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN)

To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Cooper in Tokyo at ccooper1@bloomberg.net; Kiyotaka Matsuda in Tokyo at kmatsuda@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net

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