Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.

On October 6th, AirAsia Japan (Mk II) [DJ] was officially granted an Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) from Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT). It had filed an application on July 21st (AirAsia Japan confirms Spring 2016 launch from Nagoya.). Japan's newest LCC will launch operations in early April 2016 from its Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] hub (AirAsia Japan selects Nagoya Chubu Centrair.) to Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC], Sendai [SDJ/RJSS] (New AirAsia Japan mulls Nagoya – Sendai.), and Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] using an initial fleet of two 180-seat Airbus A320s. Its two-letter IATA code will be DJ.

The new AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) first aircraft Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ/F-WWBV at Hamburg/Finkenwerder. It will be delivered shortly and is planned to arrive at Nagoya's Chubu Centrair on October 16th. (Photo: Tobias Gudat)

All three routes will start off with two daily round-trips, and details of their flight schedule will be released in late November, which will coincide with ticket sales start. The Japanese unit of Asia's largest LCC group aims to offer fares at approximately half or third of the price of full-service carriers such as All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] and Japan Airlines [JL/JAL]. AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) initial expansion will focus on international destinations already served by an AirAsia Group carrier and within a four-hour radius from Chubu Centrair, with domestic routes following afterwards. It sees itself eventually flying 55% international and 45% domestic.

"We're targeting both inbound and domestic visitors. The Chubu (Greater Nagoya) region also has a population of 15 million, so there should be much more demand," said Yoshinori Odagiri, CEO of AirAsia Japan (Mk II), adding "For Sendai, those from abroad want to see Sakura in the spring and snow in the winter, and it's becoming popular among the Japanese too. If we can create demand and increase to four or five flights a day, it may become more appealing to business travelers as well." Sendai will be an all-new city on AirAsia Group's network; New Chitose is served by AirAsia X [D7/XAX] and Taipei/Taoyuan by both AirAsia [AK/AXM] and the AirAsia X.

AirAsia Japan (Mk II) has built Red Base, its headquarters and the base for other AirAsia Group activities in Japan, on the grounds of Nagoya Chubu Centrair. A 180-room low-cost hotel is also being erected at the airport by affiliate Red Planet Japan on behalf of Tune Hotels. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

"We are very excited to be back in Japan. We have fantastic partners here and we are united in the vision to change the way people travel in Japan," commented AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, going on to say "Centrair is a fantastic base and with our new routes, we look forward not only to enable the Japanese to enjoy our direct destinations but to connect them to the rest of Asia and beyond on our extensive network." The group's Malaysian long-haul arm is looking at resuming service to Chubu Centrair, along with Thai AirAsia X [XJ/TAX] as well, when ICAO's red flag on Thailand is lifted, to feed the Japanese unit's network.

Its first aircraft, A320-216(SL) JA01DJ, will arrive at Chubu Centrair on October 16th, having completed its first flight on July 7th and currently awaiting delivery at Toulouse/Blagnac [TLS/LFBO]. AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) A320s will be supplied from the huge AirAsia Group order pool, and they plan on building its fleet to six by the end of 2016. Five aircraft will be added each year onwards; 11 aircraft by the end of 2017 and 16 by the end of 2018. If demand warrants, they have the option to add two additional A320s by the end of 2018. Its headquarters were officially moved to its brand-new Red Base at Chubu Centrair effective September 29th, and the first batch of crews have already started training in Malaysia. The current workforce of 100 will be increased to around 250 by April 2016.

AirAsia Japan (Mk II) (AirAsia Japan is officially reborn; first flight June 2015.) also completed a shareholding structure reorganization on September 25th. Voting-rights-wise, AirAsia Investment's 33% and Rakuten's 18% ownership haven't changed, while Noevir Holdings' shareholding has been increased from 13.4% to 18% and Alpen from 7.4% to 18%, with FinTech Global Trading, a new investor, now holding 13%. Meanwhile, Octave Japan Infrastructure Fund no longer holds any voting stocks, though it will retain non-voting shares. This is AirAsia Group's second crack into the Japanese market; the original AirAsia Japan (Mk I) [JW/WAJ] (CoachFlyer JW8541: NRT - FUK on AirAsia Japan's Airbus A320.) ended in a divorce with joint-venture (JV) partner ANA Holdings due to managerial differences only 10 months after launching operations. That company now operates as Vanilla Air [JW/VNL] (Vanilla Air launches operations.) under 100% ANA control.

Source: The Star (Malaysia), 2015 October 6th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 October 6th. (in Japanese)

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