Saturday, October 17, 2015

New AirAsia Japan receives first Airbus A320.

On October 16th, AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) [DJ] first aircraft, Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ (MSN 6706), arrived at its hub at Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG]. Japan's newest airline had taken delivery of the airplane on October 9th. It departed Toulouse/Balgnac [TLS/LFBO] on October 14th and touched down at the main airport serving Nagoya at 1248 JST on October 16th, after making fuel stops at Cairo [CAI/HECA], Muscat [MCT/OOMS], and Yangon [RGN/VYYY]. As with other AirAsia-branded carriers' A320s, the airframe is configured with 180 seats.

Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ receives a traditional water-cannon salute upon arriving at Nagoya' Chubu Centrair and passing by the prototype Boeing 787 Dreamliner donated to the airport. AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) second aircraft, which is planned for delivery in February 2016, will wear a special livery designed by photographer and film director Mika Ninagawa. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The reincarnation of AirAsia's Japanese unit received its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) on October 6th (New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.) and will launch operations in April 2016 initially serving three cities from Chubu Centrair; Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC], Sendai [SDJ/RJSS] (New AirAsia Japan mulls Nagoya – Sendai.), and Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP]. All will launch with double-daily frequencies, and details of the schedule will be released in late November when tickets will go on sale. Its fleet will start with two A320s, then quickly build up to six by year-end 2016, and see five additions each year after that to reach 11 by 2018, 16 by 2019, and at least 20 by 2020, when the Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics take place.

"Chubu's 24-hour operation is very attractive as it enables us to add red-eye or early morning flights, thus helping to increase aircraft utilization. The A320 can fly up to 4.5 hours, so all of Japan is covered and Korea, China, Taiwan, Guam, and Saipan are all within reach. Although we aren't in the position to disclose our fourth city, we will actively be adding new destinations in the first five years with a little more emphasis on international than domestic," said CEO Yoshinori Odagiri in a press conference at their RedBase headquarters following delivery, adding "Nagoya is one of Japan's three biggest metropolitan regions along with Tokyo and Osaka, and with Aichi being an industrial area, its population has been increasing. Until now, many have used airports in Tokyo or Osaka to travel beyond, but we would like to create more options from Chubu." The airline is aiming to produce its first full-year profit for FY2018.

Flight attendants of the new AirAsia Japan (Mk II) pose inside brand-new Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ at Chubu Centrair. Crew training flights using the aircraft are expected to start as early as November. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

"We can be flying at least 120 flights in and out of Chubu by 2020," enthused Mr. Odagiri, adding "If we have 20 airplanes and each of them fly six flights (three round-trips) that adds up to 120. If we can have them fly eight legs, the figure would be greater." Aircraft-movement-wise, All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] is currently the biggest carrier at Chubu Centrair with approximately 90 daily departures and arrivals, and AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) ambition exceeds that. Their next domestic city is expected to be Fukuoka [FUK/RJFF], with all near-term domestic additions to be in Hokkaido, Tohoku (Northeastern Japan), and Kyushu, where it would not need to compete with the super-efficient Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train). For international, coastal cities of China that are already served by AirAsia Group carriers are currently being closely looked at.

Chubu Centrair is planning to restart construction of a LCC terminal, with decision to be made by the end of the year. Mr. Odagiri said "We are currently talking with airport officials about how the terminal should look like including design and features. We hope they will go ahead with it, and we plan on moving there by 2018." The original plan was shelved when the first AirAsia Japan (Mk I) [JW/WAJ] halted operations in 2013, however, demand for a LCC-dedicated facility is increasing, with not only AirAsia Japan (Mk II) but also Chinese LCC Spring Airlines [9C/CQH] building a hub at Chubu Centrair. Other LCCs serving the airport include Cebu Air [5J/CEB] (d.b.a. Cebu Pacific), Hong Kong Express Airways [UO/HKE] (d.b.a. HK Express), Jeju Air [7C/JJA], and Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP], while V Air [ZV/ZAX] is starting in December.

In terms of voting rights, the new AirAsia Japan (Mk II) is owned by AirAsia Investment 33%, Rakuten 18%, Noevir Holdings 18%, Alpen 18%, and FinTech Global Trading 13%. It was founded in July 2014 (AirAsia Japan is officially reborn; first flight June 2015.) after the original AirAsia Japan (Mk I) (CoachFlyer JW8541: NRT - FUK on AirAsia Japan's Airbus A320.) stopped flying in October 2013 when the Malaysian parent terminated the joint-venture (JV) with partner ANA Holdings due to managerial differences. With the latter controlling 66%, everything needed to have consent from ANA, whose true interest was to tame AirAsia to protect the lucrative domestic market. That company now operates as Vanilla Air [JW/VNL] (Vanilla Air launches operations.) under 100% ANA control. This time around, AirAsia Japan (Mk II) will be making decisions on its own.

Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 October 16th. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2015 October 16th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 October 16th. (in Japanese)
Source: MyNavi, 2015 October 16th. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2015 October 17th. (in Japanese)
Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, 2015 October 17th. (in Japanese)

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