Monday, November 30, 2015

AirAsia Japan CEO to quit, ex-Skymark executives coming.

New AirAsia Japan [DJ] has announced that effective December 1st, CEO Yoshinori Odagiri will resign and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Osamu Hata, formerly with Dell Japan, will be promoted to succeed the role. AirAsia Group has also confirmed that on the same date, ex-Skymark Airlines' [BC/SKY] executives will join the board, including former Chairman Takashi Ide and President Masakazu Arimori, both of whom stepped down from Japan's bankrupt third largest airline (Skymark to file for bankruptcy.) after a new management was installed by ANA Holdings, parent of All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA], and Integral Corporation (Skymark relaunched with ANA sponsorship.).

New AirAsia Japan's CEO Yoshinori Odagiri (center) poses in front of their maiden aircraft Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ at Chubu Centrair after delivery on October 16th. Osamu Hata will be promoted to CEO while ex-Skymark Airlines Takashi Ide will play the representative role of Chairman. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

AirAsia Group started courting the duo not long after Skymark's board was revamped effective September 29th. They had maintained both official and personal relationships with AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, and at one time Mr. Ide even envisioned handing Skymark control to Asia's largest LCC group in the long term (ANA and AirAsia bid to save Skymark.). Mr. Ide will become Chairman and Mr. Arimori will become CFO, taking the place of Mr. Hata. The duo has wide and deep knowledge of the domestic market and expertise in running a low-cost operation in Japan's unique economic and regulatory environment. That said, Skymark's success centered around its 36 slot-pairs at regulated Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] while AirAsia Japan is based at Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG], and Skymark has been a purely domestic carrier while AirAsia Japan plans to allocate at least 55% of its capacity to international.

Mr. Odagiri, who also served as CEO with the first AirAsia Japan [JW/WAJ] (CoachFlyer JW8541: NRT - FUK on AirAsia Japan's Airbus A320.), will become Adviser. Although no reason has officially been given, the former ANA veteran is likely stepping down due to conflict of ideas within the board on how the new Japanese unit would be run. Having been founded in July 2014, Japan's fifth LCC has been set back with almost a year's delay in launching operations (AirAsia Japan is officially reborn; first flight June 2015.), largely due to shifting strategy to focus more on the international market rather than domestic, difficulties in recruiting pilots and setting up a maintenance scheme, and much-longer-than-anticipated preparation to apply for an Air Operator's Certificate (AOC), which it obtained on October 6th (New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.).

In terms of voting rights, the new AirAsia Japan is owned by AirAsia Investment 33%, Rakuten 18%, Noevir Holdings 18%, Alpen 18%, and FinTech Global Trading 13%. Having received an AOC, it took delivery of its first Airbus A320 on October 9th (New AirAsia Japan receives first Airbus A320.) and revealed that operations would start in April 2016 from their Chubu Centrair hub to Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC], Sendai [SDJ/RJSS] (New AirAsia Japan mulls Nagoya – Sendai.), and Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP]. The original AirAsia Japan ceased operating in October 2013 after the Malaysian parent terminated the joint-venture (JV) with partner ANA due to managerial differences. It has since been relaunched as Vanilla Air [JW/VNL] under full ANA control (Vanilla Air launches operations.).

Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 November 27th. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2015 November 28th. (in Japanese)
Source: Asahi Shimbun, 2015 November 29th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 November 30th. (in Japanese)

*Edited/updated on November 30th.  

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