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AirAsia Teams Up With Rakuten for Second Attempt at Japan Market

AirAsia Bhd. (AIRA), the region’s biggest budget carrier, picked e-commerce company Rakuten Inc. (4755) as one of its partners for a second attempt at Japan’s aviation market after pulling out of a tie-up with ANA Holdings Inc. (9202) last year.

AirAsia will take a 49 percent stake in the new carrier, Rakuten 18 percent and cosmetics producer Noevir Holdings Co. (4928) 9 percent with sporting goods vendor Alpen Co. (3028) holding 5 percent, according to a statement released in Tokyo today. Octave will own 19 percent. Flights will start next year.

Sepang, Malaysia-based AirAsia ended its venture with ANA last year due to a disagreement over strategy, with the Tokyo-based carrier re-starting the carrier as Vanilla Air Inc. in December. Competition among low-fare airlines is increasing in Japan with three budget carriers starting flights in 2012, and a fourth, Spring Airlines Japan Co. set to start operations next month.

AirAsia didn’t give details about routes.

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 editors responsible for this story: Anand Krishnamoorthy at anandk@bloomberg.net

Photographer: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

Tony Fernandes, chief executive officer of AirAsia Bhd., and Billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and chief executive officer of Rakuten Inc., shake hands during a news conference in Tokyo. Close

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Photographer: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

Tony Fernandes, chief executive officer of AirAsia Bhd., and Billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and chief executive officer of Rakuten Inc., shake hands during a news conference in Tokyo.

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