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.  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jetstar Japan launches Taipei, next up Manila.

On November 27th, Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] launched Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP], initially serving the Taiwanese capital three times a week from Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] (Jetstar Japan is coming to Taipei in November.). Taiwan becomes the Narita-based LCC's only second international destination after Hong Kong [HKG/VHHH] (Jetstar Japan goes international with Kansai – Hong Kong.). Operated by 180-seat Airbus A320s, the new link will be increased to four times weekly on December 14th and daily from December 23rd.

Airbus A320-232(SL) JA20JJ arrives at Narita. Jetstar Japan operates 20 aircraft, while another four are currently sub-leased out to other carriers. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The outbound flight departs Narita approximately one hour before the 2300 curfew, and arrives into Taipei in the middle of the night, while the return leg departs Taipei before dawn and arrives back at Narita in the morning, about an hour after the airport opens at 0600. Inaugural flight GK011 departed at 2132 JST, eight minutes ahead of schedule, carrying 169 passengers. A320-232(SL) JA20JJ, the airline's newest machine, was assigned. Unlike most inaugural flights, ceremonial events were only held at the departure gate and not during the flight, as it runs on a red-eye timetable. The flight arrived at Taipei at 0035 CST.

Flight Schedule:
Tokyo/Narita – Taipei/Taoyuan NEW three weekly with A320-200 (daily from Dec/23).
GK011 NRT 2140 – 0040(+1) TPE 32A/320 Fr *From Nov/27.
GK011 NRT 2200 – 0100(+1) TPE 32A/320 We/Su *Nov/27 - Dec/9.
GK011 NRT 2200 – 0100(+1) TPE 32A/320 Mo/We/Su *Dec/11 - 21.
GK011 NRT 2200 – 0100(+1) TPE 32A/320 Mo/Tu/We/Th/Sa/Su *From Dec/23.
GK012 TPE 0330 – 0730 NRT 32A/320 Mo/Th/Sa *Nov/28 - Dec/10.
GK012 TPE 0330 – 0730 NRT 32A/320 Mo/Tu/Th/Sa *Dec/12 - 22.
GK012 TPE 0330 – 0730 NRT 32A/320 Daily *From Dec/24.

"So far, about 60-65% of passengers are from Taiwan, and 35-40% are from Japan," said Chairman Masaru Kataoka, adding "Since it's timed for an early-morning arrival in Tokyo and late-night return to Taiwan, it may be a good schedule for the Taiwan side." Mr. Kataoka believes it can take advantage of brand recognition as Taipei is already served by sister airline Jetstar Asia Airways [3K/JSA], with service to and from Singapore/Changi [SIN/WSSS] and Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB].

Jetstar Japan only launched international flights in February this year, with service to Hong Kong from Kansai (Jetstar Japan goes international with Kansai – Hong Kong.) followed by Narita from June (Jetstar Japan starts Narita – Hong Kong.). For Taipei, flights to and from Kansai will follow on December 11th and Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] on December 12th (Jetstar Japan is coming to Taipei in November.). The carrier hopes to add  Manila/Ninoy Aquino [MNL/RPLL], to become its third overseas city, in Spring 2016. Sister Jetstar Asia already flies Kansai – Manila.

Jetstar Japan, Jetstar Asia, and Jetstar Airways [JQ/JST] already have regulatory approval to coordinate flight times and prices on international routes between Japan and Taiwan and the Philippines, which they received from Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) on October 2nd.

Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 November 28th. (in Japanese)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Peach Aviation announces Haneda – Seoul.

On November 11th, Peach Aviation [MM/APJ] revealed that they will commence Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] – Seoul/Incheon [ICN/RKSI] on February 5th, 2015. It will become their second route from the downtown Tokyo airport after Taipei (Peach Aviation inaugurates Haneda – Taipei.), which was only launched in August, and their 10th international route overall. On the same day, they are also adding a fourth round-trip between Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] and Seoul.

Airbus A320-214 JA817P/F-WWBZ at Toulouse Blagnac. Peach's 17th aircraft will be delivered later this month. (Photo: Tobias Gudat)

Along with Peach's Taipei link from Haneda, the new service will also use the heavily-regulated airport's under-utilized midnight slot-pairs reserved exclusively for international routes. The aircraft for the Seoul – Haneda route arrives into Seoul as the fourth flight from Kansai late in the evening, and turns around for the inbound flight to Haneda. After a brief 60-minute stay, it returns to Seoul as the outbound red-eye flight from Haneda, in time for the first flight of the day from Seoul back to Kansai.

Flight Schedule:
Haneda – Seoul/Incheon NEW 1 daily with A320-200.
MM1009 HND 0200 – 0435 ICN 320 Daily *From Feb/6.
MM1008 ICN 2250 – 0100(+1) HND 320 Daily *From Feb/5.

Kansai – Seoul/Incheon increase from 3 to 4 daily with A320-200.
MM001 KIX 0750 – 0945 ICN 320 Daily
MM005 KIX 1240 – 1435 ICN 320 Daily
MM009 KIX 1815 – 2010 ICN 320 Daily *No ops Feb/29 - Mar/3, Mar/7-10, 14-17, 22-24.
MM011 KIX 2000 – 2155 ICN 320 Daily *From Feb/5.
MM012 ICN 0745 – 0925 KIX 320 Daily *From Feb/6 except Feb/11-26 Thu/Fri.
MM012 ICN 0725 – 0905 KIX 320 Thu/Fri *Feb/11-26.
MM002 ICN 1025 – 1205 KIX 320 Daily
MM006 ICN 1515 – 1655 KIX 320 Daily
MM010 ICN 2050 – 2230 KIX 320 Daily *No ops Feb/29 - Mar/3, Mar/7-10, 14-17, 22-24.

One-way fares for Haneda – Seoul start from 5,680 JPY for a Happy Peach ticket, which includes a 10-kilogram carry-on baggage allowance, and will go on sale on November 18th at 1500 JST. A promotional round-trip 9,000 JPY will be offered for travel between February 16th and March 17th provided the passenger boards both legs on the same day, allowing for a 18-hour stay in South Korea's capital. Kansai – Seoul starts from 5,280 JPY and the new round-trip went on sale today.

Due to regulatory obstacles, Peach so far has a split operation for Tokyo; international routes to Seoul and Taipei leave from Haneda and domestic routes to Fukuoka [FUK/RJFF], Kansai, Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] depart from Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] (Peach starts Narita to Fukuoka and Sapporo.). Any new domestic flights or daytime international services need to fly from Narita as the Kansai-based LCC does not hold slots for those purposes at Haneda. Seoul becomes Peach's second international destination after Taipei to be served from three points in Japan; Okinawa/Naha [OKA/ROAH] (Peach Aviation starts Okinawa – Seoul.), Kansai, and Haneda. Will Hong Kong [HKG/VHHH] be the third?

Source: Peach Aviation, 2015 November 11th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 November 11th. (in Japanese)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Spring Airlines Japan files for Chongqing and Wuhan.

On November 4th, Spring Airlines Japan [IJ/SJO] announced that they had officially filed an application with the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) to launch its first international routes from Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] to Chongqing [CKG/ZUCK] and Wuhan [WUH/ZHHH] in February 2016, coinciding with the Chinese New Year peak travel season. Chairman Wang Wei had disclosed over a year ago that these would be their first overseas destinations (Spring Japan considering Chongqing and Wuhan.).

Boeing 737-86N(WL) JA02GR taxies at Narita. Spring Japan is not envisioned to become a major domestic player; it is a vehicle of the Spring Airlines Group to better access the Tokyo market, both politically and regulatorily, and carry Chinese travelers visiting multiple Japanese cities. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Wuhan will start on February 13th with a three-times-weekly service, operating on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, while Chongqing will follow on February 14th operating four times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Details of the schedule will be released at a later date. 189-seat Boeing 737-800s will fly the new routes.

Parent Spring Airlines [9C/CQH] already connects the two Chinese cities with Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB], while it also links Chongqing with Luoyang [LYA/ZHLY], Shanghai/Hongqiao [SHA/ZSSS], Shanghai/Pudong [PVG/ZSPD], Shenyang [SHE/ZYTX], Shenzhen [SZX/ZGSZ], and Shijiazhuang [SJW/ZBSJ]. It does not offer any domestic flights from Wuhan. Meanwhile, Narita – Chongqing currently sees Air China [CA/CCA] operating daily and Narita – Wuhan has a twice-weekly round-trip with China Southern Airlines [CZ/CSN].

The Japanese affiliate of China's largest LCC only launched revenue flights last year in August 2014 with three routes from their Narita hub (Spring Airlines Japan commences operations.). However, Takamatsu [TAK/RJOT] was suspended after October 23rd (Spring Airlines Japan to drop Takamatsu.), leaving the fledgling carrier with just twice-daily Hiroshima [HIJ/RJOA] and daily Saga [HSG/RJFS] services for a still small fleet of three 737s. It will not be adding any aircraft for the time being. Domestic expansion is also reportedly in the works, with Kansai and Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] to be launched as early as Spring 2016 (Spring Airlines Japan plans Kansai, Sapporo, and China.). Its Chinese parent is building a hub at Kansai, while it also serves the Hokkaido capital from Shanghai/Pudong.

Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 November 4th. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2015 November 4th. (in Japanese)