Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Peach Aviation commences Okinawa – Narita.

On February 20th, Peach Aviation [MM/APJ] launched Okinawa/Naha [OKA/ROAH] – Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] (Peach Aviation grows Okinawa; Narita and more Taipei.). It initially started out with an evening round-trip flying three times weekly, operating on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, due to limited availability of favorable slot times at Narita, but will be up-gauged to daytime hours and go daily from March 27th, the beginning of the Summer 2016 schedule. 180-seat Airbus A320s are assigned.

Airbus A320-214 JA803P departs Peach's second hub at Naha. It plans a modest fleet of 20 by October 2017 with a third hub at Narita and a fourth in Sendai. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Inaugural flight MM508 departed Naha at 1617 JST, 17 minutes behind schedule, with a load of 168 passengers (including one infant), four flight attendants, and two pilots, and arrived at Narita at 1815, 10 minutes before the published time. A320-214 JA803P operated both legs.

Flight Schedule:
MM504 OKA 1100 – 1340 NRT 320 Daily *From Mar/27.
MM508 OKA 1600 – 1825 NRT 320 Mo/Th/Sa *Feb/20 - Mar/26.
MM505 NRT 1425 – 1715 OKA 320 Daily *From Mar/27.
MM509 NRT 1900 – 2215 OKA 320 Mo/Th/Sa *Feb/20 - Mar/26.

The Ryukyu capital became the growing LCC's fourth destination from Narita, after Fukuoka [FUK/RJFF], Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB], and Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] (Peach starts Narita to Fukuoka and Sapporo.), and the sixth overall from the Tokyo region, as it serves Seoul/Incheon [ICN/RKSI] (Peach Aviation starts Haneda – Seoul.) and Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] (Peach Aviation inaugurates Haneda – Taipei.) from Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] using midnight slots. Meanwhile, Narita is the sixth city from their Naha hub, which already sees service to Fukuoka, Hong Kong [HKG/VHHH], Kansai, Seoul (Peach Aviation starts Okinawa – Seoul.), and Taipei.

The Naha – Narita route currently has three other airlines operating; All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA], subsidiary of Peach's 38.67% shareholder ANA Holdings, mainly feeds its international flights, while Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] and Vanilla Air [JW/VNL], ANA's wholly-owned LCC arm, compete with Peach. Japan Airlines [JL/JAL] withdrew from the route in October 2014 and instead code-shares with 33% subsidiary Jetstar Japan to feed its international flights (JAL to terminate Narita – Okinawa.).

One year ago, Peach had publicly stated that Narita would become its third hub after Kansai and Naha (Peach confirms Narita hub; adds Fukuoka and Sapporo.), however, CEO Shinichi Inoue has admitted that it could be delayed due to the unavailability of favorable slot times, and hubbing Sendai [SDJ/RJSS] may end up coming before (Peach plans Sendai hub by Summer 2017.). Meanwhile, Mr. Inoue is eager to add more midnight international flights from Haneda, with Hong Kong being the most likely candidate. Peach does not have any access to daytime slots, hence a split operation for Tokyo.

Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 February 20th. (in Japanese)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New AirAsia Japan reveals China, SE Asia, USA ambitions.

On February 15th, AirAsia Japan's (Mk II) [DJ] new Chairman Takashi Ide revealed that the delayed LCC is now preparing to start flying in Summer 2016, hopefully in July or August. Speaking at a public symposium calling for a second runway at its Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] hub (AirAsia Japan confirms Spring 2016 launch from Nagoya.), the former Skymark Airlines [BC/SKY] executive who only joined in December (AirAsia Japan CEO to quit, ex-Skymark executives coming.) also disclosed plans for China, hubs at Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] and Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA], plus Airbus A330s for trans-Pacific and Hawaii routes. It will also continue to push for Chubu Centrair's proposed new LCC terminal, which could open as early as FY2018 and handle up to 5 million passengers annually.

Airbus A320-216(SL) JA01DJ, which has not flown since delivery (New AirAsia Japan receives first Airbus A320.), is now being reactivated for a test flight on February 16th. AirAsia Japan (Mk II) plans to commence crew training on its own aircraft on March 15th as their first group of trainees return from Malaysia. Their second aircraft will be deferred to April, while the Mika Ninagawa-designed special livery will be adorned by their third. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The reincarnation of AirAsia's [AK/AXM] Japanese unit was originally planned to take off in June 2015 (AirAsia Japan is officially reborn; first flight June 2015.), but was postponed to April 2016 after finally receiving an Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) in October (New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.), only to be delayed again after the surprising management change (New AirAsia Japan delays service entry to July 2016.). Its shareholders have agreed to together inject 3 billion JPY this month. "Former management was essentially trying to build a Japanese branch of AirAsia. But we need to be a Japanese airline in the first place," said Mr. Ide, explaining "An AOC (in Japan) only means the business structure is in place. We cannot fly yet because we have not met all the JCAB criteria to become airworthy." Mr. Ide also added "AirAsia is fun and bright, but that is outside of Japan. People are very conservative here, and it is difficult to carve out a space against ANA and JAL. I learned a lot about that (through Skymark)."

Mr. Ide reiterated that AirAsia Japan's main target would be Japan's inbound market (outbound is shrinking due to aging and a declining population). As already reported, it will start with a fleet of two 180-seat Airbus A320 flying from Chubu Centrair to Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC], Sendai [SDJ/RJSS], and Taipei, with each city receiving double-daily frequencies. It plans to carry 150,000 passengers by 2016 year-end. In 2017, its fleet will be increased to six aircraft mostly to fuel China expansion, and Mr. Ide named Beijing/Capital [PEK/ZBAA] or Tianjin [TSN/ZBTJ], Guam [GUM/PGUM], Hong Kong [HKG/VHHH] or Macau [MFM/VMMC], Seoul/Incheon [ICN/RKSI], and Shanghai/Pudong [PVG/ZSPD] or Wuxi [WUX/ZSWX]. Mr. Ide said it will not hesitate to fly to less-congested airports that have attractive incentives for newcomers. First profit is forecasted for FY2017.

For 2018, AirAsia Japan will add three A320s for a total of nine, plus two A330s. The new Airbus wide-body aircraft will be used to open up Chubu Centrair – Singapore/Changi [SIN/WSSS], while the additional A320s will be based at a new hub at Narita and fly to Beijing or Tianjin, Hong Kong or Macau, New Chitose, Taipei, and Shanghai or Wuxi, all destinations which would already be served from Chubu Centrair by then. FY2018 is projected to see total revenue increasing to 25 billion JPY with a profit margin of 7%. During 2019, the fleet will be increased to a dozen A320s and four A330s; the A320s will be based at their third hub at Taipei and start Vietnam and Singapore using fifth freedom rights, while additional A330s will be used to launch Honolulu [HNL/PHNL] from both Chubu Centrair and Narita. FY2019 is expected to see revenue amounting to 35 billion JPY with a profit margin of 10%.

By the end of 2020, the LCC will boast 14 A320s and six A330s. The additional A330s will be used to open up its first trans-Pacific routes to Seattle-Tacoma [SEA/KSEA], though Mr. Ide noted it could be changed to San Francisco [SFO/KSFO] depending on which U.S. partner it interlines with. Meanwhile, the A320 additions will help them connect more dots, including Taipei and Narita with Seoul. By the end of FY2020, AirAsia Japan aims to fly 30 round-trips from Chubu Centair and 10 round-trips from Narita with an average load factor of 75%, producing total revenues of 50 billion JPY and a profit margin of 15%. The LCC also plans to conduct its Initial Public Offering (IPO) during FY2020.

So the details of AirAsia's second shot at Japan have now been unveiled. The importance of China had been repeated, however, as slots at key destinations dry up, it may need to fly to secondary airports. AirAsia has brand recognition in China, but how much impact a split operation among sisters would have is unsure, though it already serves multiple airports for Tokyo with AirAsia X [D7/XAX] at Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] and Thai AirAsia X [XJ/TAX] at Narita. For Japan – Southeast Asia, Vietnam and Singapore are natural priorities, as the group doesn't have local affiliates there. Meanwhile, Malaysia and Thailand are better served by its lower-cost sisters in these respective countries. It is also noteworthy that AirAsia Japan will become the first group carrier to operate A330s alongside A320s (excluding Indonesia AirAsia X [XT/IDX], for paperwork purposes); the Airbus wide-bodies will mainly serve trans-Pacific and Hawaii markets, with feed not only from Japan (which is shrinking), but from China and Southeast Asia (which is growing).

Source: Traicy, 2016 February 15th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 February 15th. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2016 February 15th. (in Japanese)

*Edited/updated on 2016 February 16th.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Spring Airlines Japan launches Wuhan and Chongqing.

On February 13th, Spring Airlines Japan [IJ/SJO] launched its first international service from Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA] to Wuhan [WUH/ZHHH], followed by Chongqing [CKG/ZUCK] the following day on February 14th. Thus, the affiliate of Spring Airlines [9C/CQH] became the first Japanese LCC to serve mainland China. Regulator Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) had granted the fledgling airline approval to operate international routes on December 16th (Spring Airlines Japan granted approval to go international.). All flights are operated by 189-seat Boeing 737-800s.

Boeing 737-86N(WL) JA03GR rotates from Narita for her maiden flight to Wuhan. Spring Airlines Japan has so far capped its fleet at just three aircraft. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Maiden international flight IJ1011 departed Narita at 1024 JST, four minutes behind schedule, with a load of 138 passengers including 11 infants. 737-86N(WL) JA03GR was assigned. Wuhan started with a three-times-weekly frequency, operating on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, while Chongqing runs four times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Both round-trips are timed to depart Narita in the morning for an afternoon arrival into the Chinese cities and an evening return to Japan.

Flight Schedule:
Narita – Wuhan NEW 3 weekly with B737-800.
IJ1011 NRT 1020 – 1415 WUH 73H Mo/We/Sa
IJ1012 WUH 1515 – 1940 NRT 73H Mo/We/Sa

Narita – Chongqing NEW 4 weekly with B737-800.
IJ1021 NRT 0900 – 1415 CKG 73H Tu/Th/Fr/Su
IJ1022 CKG 1515 – 2025 NRT 73H Tu/Th/Fr/Su

"As a group, we are looking forward to bringing more Chinese tourists to Japan, and hopefully more Japanese to China as well," said Wang Zhenghua, Chairman of Spring Airlines Group, while the Japanese affiliate's President Hiroshi Ukai enthused "This is our first step to build our international network. We will be adding many more destinations from Narita to China." Lanzhou [LHW/ZLLL] has been mentioned as the possible next city, while Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] and Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC] have been evaluated as the next domestic destinations (Spring Airlines Japan plans Kansai, Sapporo, and China.).

Having commenced operations in August 2014 (Spring Airlines Japan commences operations.), Spring Airlines Japan was founded given the specific mission to connect Chinese cities with the main international airport serving Tokyo, which would be difficult for its Chinese parent to accomplish due to restrictions and politics that protect government-owned Air China [CA/CCA], China Eastern Airlines [MU/CES], and China Southern Airlines [CZ/CSN]. For example, Narita – Chongqing already had Air China operating daily, while Narita – Wuhan sees twice-weekly China Southern service, so approval to enter the markets by Spring Airlines would not have come easy, and Spring Airlines Japan is the group's answer to get around with it.

Peer LCCs Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP], Peach Aviation [MM/APJ], and Vanilla Air [JW/VNL], have all omitted the Chinese market so far, due to them having small or no brand recognition in China, a higher cost base than its Chinese counterparts, and political tensions, though now to a lesser extent. Peach has mulled Shanghai for some time but has remained quiet, while Vanilla Air only recently announced its commitment to China (Vanilla Air eyes China, Southeast Asia, and Okinawa hub.). Being able to take advantage of its parent's brand awareness as well as the group's distribution channels puts Spring Airlines Japan in the best position among Japanese LCCs to serve the booming China – Japan market. While there are still more Japanese visiting China than Chinese traveling to Japan, the latter is fast increasing while the former is declining.

In other news, in December 2015, Japanese electronics retailer Bic Camera and housing firm Sekisui House announced plans to acquire stakes in Spring Airlines Japan. The former has invested 1 billion JPY to control 6% of the LCC's voting shares, and will have the airline promote its products and hand out discount vouchers eligible for use at its stores. Additionally, it may also be allocated seats for promotions. Meanwhile, the latter is looking to invest 3 billion JPY for an 18% share by the end of March. Japan's largest housing company is looking to partner with the Spring Airlines Group in opening a chain of budget hotels in Japan under the brand Spring Sunny Hotel. It would be a joint-venture (JV) between the LCC group and a Japanese real estate management company Sun Frontier Fudousan.

Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2015 December 22nd. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2015 December 22nd. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2015 December 23rd. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 February 13rd. (in Japanese)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

New AirAsia Japan delays service entry to July 2016.

On February 10th, AirAsia Japan (Mk II) [DJ] officially admitted that it would be unable to meet its target operations launch in April 2016 (New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.). The company explained it was due to "a number of factors." This becomes the second delay (AirAsia admits Skymark bid defeat, Japan unit delay to 2016.), and they will now work to start flying in July, which would put it more than one year behind their original time schedule (New AirAsia Japan takeoff slipping to Summer 2016?).

Airbus A320-216(SL) JA02DJ/F-WWBO (msn 6972), AirAsia Japan's second aircraft, will be delivered in late February, though its first A320 has yet to fly since delivery last October. A special livery designed by Mika Ninagawa was planned for the second example, but seems to have been postponed to a later airframe. Flight training was originally slated to begin in November last year, but is now planned by March. (Photo: Tobias Gudat)

Japan's fifth LCC had already been set back with a 10-month delay (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). It finally obtained one on October 6th, 2015 and announced that it would launch in April with flights from Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG] to Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC], Sendai [SDJ/RJSS], and Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] (New AirAsia Japan receives AOC; takeoff in April 2016.). However, until now their first Airbus A320 has not flown once since delivery four months ago (New AirAsia Japan receives first Airbus A320.).

Dissatisfied with slow progress, effective December 1st, the LCC group replaced CEO Yoshinori Odagiri, formerly a veteran from All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA] who also headed the first AirAsia Japan (Mk I) [JW/WAJ], with ex-Skymark Airlines' [BC/SKY] Chairman Takashi Ide and President Masakazu Arimori in a surprise move (Skymark relaunched with ANA sponsorship.). Mr. Ide was made AirAsia Japan's Chairman while Mr. Arimori took the place of CFO, while ex-Dell Osamu Hata was promoted to CEO (AirAsia Japan CEO to quit, ex-Skymark executives coming.). However, it must be noted that Skymark and AirAsia Japan are different; the former has been a domestic player centered around its precious slots at Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT], while the latter is based at Chubu Centrair with at least 55% of its capacity to be international.

Nonetheless, the Skymark duo have wide and deep knowledge of the domestic market and expertise in running a low-cost operation in Japan's unique economic and regulatory environment. And, the hidden agenda may be that, they along with management at AirAsia have not given up on eventually merging AirAsia Japan and Skymark, which has so far been politically impossible (Is AirAsia considering a Skymark takeover?) (ANA and AirAsia bid to save Skymark.). Skymark's new President Nobuo Sayama still maintains close relations with the duo, and Skymark's new owners Integral Corporation and ANA Holdings have agreed to re-list the airline by 2020. Meanwhile, the government has hinted liberalizing Haneda to a significant extent sometime, but not long, after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics, and AirAsia and Skymark may be quietly waiting for the appropriate time.

With the latest postponement, some media have voiced concerns over whether AirAsia Japan could really take off. However, though it may be delayed, the Japanese unit of Asia's largest LCC has so much potential it could realize and Tony Fernandes is probably serious about it. Aside from Spring Airlines Japan [IJ/SJO], AirAsia Japan is best placed among Japanese LCCs to tap into China, the single largest (and still growing) source of inbound visitors to Japan, as it already has brand-awareness with AirAsia Group carriers serving 17 Chinese cities. Furthermore, sister carrier AirAsia X [D7/XAX] (and probably Thai AirAsia X [XJ/TAX] as well when Thailand's ICAO red flag is lifted and FAA rating is returned to Category 1) is venturing into the trans-Pacific market (starting with Honolulu [HNL/PHNL]) with a stop in Japan using fifth freedom rights, and if this proves successful, it could grow not only to provide a Japan – North America operation (which is a shrinking market), but a competitive one-stop China – North America (growing market) option.

Source: Nikkei Shimbun, 2016 February 10th (in Japanese) 
Source: Travel Vision, 2016 February 10th. (in Japanese)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Peach Aviation starts Haneda – Seoul.

On February 6th, Peach Aviation [MM/APJ] inaugurated Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT] – Seoul/Incheon [ICN/RKSI] (Peach Aviation announces Haneda – Seoul.). It became their second route from the downtown Tokyo airport after Taipei (Peach Aviation inaugurates Haneda – Taipei.), which was only launched in August 2015, and their 10th international route overall. Meanwhile, Seoul will now be served from three points: Okinawa/Naha [OKA/ROAH], Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB], and Haneda. All flights are operated by 180-seat Airbus A320s.

Airbus A320-214 JA813P at Haneda moments after arriving from Seoul's Incheon as the inaugural flight. Peach's fleet boasts a modest 17 A320s, with the next example not due until October this year. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The inaugural inbound flight MM1008 departed Incheon on February 5th at 2301 KST with a full load of 181 passengers including an infant, and touched down at Haneda past midnight at 0106 JST. A320-214 JA813P was assigned. Meanwhile, the maiden outbound leg MM1009 departed Haneda on February 6th at 0207 JST carrying 173 passengers including two infants, and arrived at Incheon early in the morning at 0442 KST. There is no time difference between Tokyo and Seoul.

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.

As with Peach's Haneda – Taipei link, the new service to Korea also uses the heavily-regulated airport's under-utilized midnight slot-pairs reserved exclusively for international flights. Peach added a fourth round-trip between Kansai and Seoul from the same day, and after that aircraft arrives into Seoul, it turns around to become 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.

"If you feel like you're up for a Korean barbeque or beauty salon tomorrow, Peach has been providing the answer for those in Osaka. Now we'll be offering that to everyone in Tokyo," said Shinichi Inoue, CEO of Peach, who was present at Haneda on the day. "Travel has become much more affordable and Japan and the rest of Asia are now closer than ever. We're looking forward to opening up our third and fourth international routes from Haneda," Mr. Inoue continued, without naming any destinations. Haneda's current constraints confine Peach to arrivals and departures between 2300 and 0600 only, so the third and fourth will also likely be existing cities on Peach's network if it wishes not to sacrifice aircraft utilization. Hong Kong [HKG/VHHH] and Kaohsiung [KHH/RCKH] would be natural choices.

Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 February 6th. (in Japanese)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Star Flyer loads Kitakyushu – Taipei charter.

On February 4th, Star Flyer [7G/SFJ] announced that they will operate three round-trip charters between Kitakyushu [KKJ/RJFR] and Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] during Japan's Golden Week peak travel period in May. 150-seat Airbus A320s will be assigned. Travel agencies JTB World Vacations and H.I.S. will market the packaged tour in Japan, while an undisclosed firm in Taipei has been contracted to sell tickets in Taiwan.

Airbus A320-214 JA05MC City of Kitakyushu at Haneda. Star Flyer is considering revamping the interior of its A320s, as well as increasing seat count from 150 to 166, matching that of ANA's A320s. The current generous low-density configuration would be unsustainable if and when fuel prices go up again. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

In May last year, the Kitakyushu-based airline had announced that it would consider midnight international charters to regional Asian destinations from its base as well as Nagoya/Chubu Centrair [NGO/RJGG], Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB], and Tokyo/Haneda [HND/RJTT], as part of its mid-term strategy dubbed Pursuit of Star Flyer-ness 2020 (Star Flyer back in black, mulls international charters.). The red-eye flights increase utilization by flying them during the midnight when most domestic airports are closed.

Flight Schedule:
Kitakyushu – Taipei NEW charter with A320-200.
7G9671 KKJ 2330 – 0100(+1) TPE 32A/320 *May/2, 4, 6.
7G9672 TPE 0230 – 0550 KKJ 32A/320 *May/3, 5, 7.

With assistance from ANA Holdings, Star Flyer successfully turned itself around in FY2014, reporting a 431 million JPY net profit for the fiscal year ending in March 2015 over a 3.04 billion JPY loss for FY2013. The parent of Japan's largest airline is Star Flyer's biggest shareholder and has a 17.96% stake, and its current President Sadami Matsuishi is an ANA veteran (New Star Flyer President is from ANA.). All routes and all but a single Haneda – Kitakyushu round-trip code-share with ANA, and the partnership generates well over 30% of the Kyushu carrier's total revenue (Star Flyer launches Yamaguchi-Ube.).

Star Flyer currently operates nine 150-seat A320s on domestic routes. Their sole scheduled international route launched in July 2012 between Kitakyushu and Busan/Gimhae [PUS/RKPK] was suspended in March 2014 due to heavy losses.

Source: Star Flyer, 2016 February 4th. (in Japanese)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Vanilla Air eyes China, Southeast Asia, and Okinawa hub.

On January 29th, Vanilla Air's [JW/VNL] owner ANA Holdings, parent of Japan's largest carrier All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA], announced that it would increase the Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA]-based LCC's capacity by 218% as measured by available seat kilometers (ASKs) by the end of FY2020. It aims to become the number one LCC at Narita, going head to head with rival Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP], and also partly competing with sister Peach Aviation [MM/APJ], minority-owned by ANA.

Airbus A320-216(SL) JA06VA taxies for departure from Narita. Vanilla Air plans to add up to five aircraft in FY2016, with another dozen to be inducted by FY2020. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

Vanilla will add more leisure-oriented markets, including cities which have yet to be served by the ANA Group, and enter the Chinese market to tap into Japan's largest source of inbound tourists. It also envisions setting up its second hub at Okinawa/Naha [OKA/ROAH], and designating Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] a strategic focus city, which would inevitably increase overlap with Peach (Peach Aviation grows Okinawa; Narita and more Taipei.). Guam, Saipan, Philippines, along with Southeast Asia are on the horizon, though Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] – Taipei (Vanilla Air to add Kansai – Taipei in Summer 2016.) is expected to become the next route.

Its current fleet of eight 180-seat Airbus A320s will be grown to 25 by FY2020, and the re-engined A320neo is under consideration. Acquisition of A330 wide-body aircraft will also continue to be evaluated, but it would be necessary if Vanilla wishes to fly to Southeast Asia nonstop from Narita both ways without payload penalties. "A single-type operation is the LCC formula, but we're also evaluating a plan with wide-bodies," said ANA Holdings President Shinya Katanozaka, adding "Asian LCCs are evolving, and they're entering longer routes. We may operate two types side-by-side, or even a complete shift to wide-body-only operations in the long-term is also a possibility."

Some sources say there is already an undisclosed done deal for ANA to lease a few A330s from CIT Aerospace for deployment at Vanilla. Pleasing CIT, Skymark Airlines' [BC/SKY] fourth largest creditor after Intrepid Aviation, Airbus, and Rolls-Royce, was also necessary for ANA to win support to sponsor Japan's bankrupt third largest airline (Bye-bye Skymark, Hello ANA Airbus A380?). Meanwhile, Vanilla has become quiet on any plans to fly to Hawaii after ANA finally released plans to fly Skymark's displaced A380s to the popular resort destination. With ANA's A380s planned to accommodate 500 to 600 passengers, they would virtually be dumping seats in the market overnight, and an entry by Vanilla would result in excessive overcapacity.

Source: ANA Holdings, 2016 January 29th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 February 3rd. (in Japanese)

*Edited/updated on 2016 February 3rd.