Thursday, April 28, 2016

Vanilla Air adds Kansai – Taipei, plans SE Asia in 4Q2016.

On April 27th, Vanilla Air [JW/VNL] inaugurated Osaka/Kansai [KIX/RJBB] – Taipei/Taoyuan [TPE/RCTP] (Vanilla Air announces Kansai – Taipei.). The new daily red-eye service is actually a spoke from Taiwan's capital, making Osaka's premier gateway the fledgling LCCs fourth destination in Japan, but the first not linking with their hub at Tokyo/Narita [NRT/RJAA]. All flights are operated by 180-seat Airbus A320-200s.

Airbus A320-214(SL) JA05VA at Kansai waiting for her inaugural outbound flight to Taipei. Vanilla Air received its ninth A320 on April 22nd, and will receive two more during FY2016. The three aircraft are leased from BOC Aviation to ANA, which sub-leases them to Vanilla. Its fleet is projected to reach 25 by FY2020. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The aircraft for Taipei – Kansai arrives into Taipei as the last flight of the day from Narita just past midnight, and turns around for the inbound flight to Kansai. After a brief 60-minute stay, it departs for Taipei as the outbound flight from Kansai, in time for the first flight of the day from Taipei back to Narita. One-way fares start from 6,490 JPY for a ticket with no baggage allowance (Simple Vanilla) and 9,490 JPY for an inclusive ticket with 20 kilograms of baggage allowance plus free seat selection (Komi-komi Vanilla).

Flight Schedule:
Kansai – Taipei/Taoyuan NEW daily with A320-200.
JW178 TPE 2150 – 0135(+1) KIX 32A/320 Daily *Apr/27 - Sep/13.
JW178 TPE 2235 – 0220(+1) KIX 32A/320 Daily *Sep/13 - Oct/29.
JW179 KIX 0235 – 0430 TPE 32A/320 Daily *Apr/28 - Sep/14.
JW179 KIX 0315 – 0510 TPE 32A/320 Daily *Sep/14 - Oct/30.

Maiden inbound flight JW178 departed Taipei at 2145 CST, five minutes before published time, with a load of 114 passengers, and arrived at Kansai at 0112 JST, 23 minutes before schedule, on April 28th. Meanwhile, the first outbound flight JW179 blocked out from Kansai at 0233 JST, two minutes early, carrying 120 passengers, and arrived at Taoyuan Airport at 0440 CST, 10 minutes behind schedule. A320-214(SL) JA05VA was assigned to both flights.

A second round-trip is already being considered, which would put them in direct competition against part-sister Peach Aviation [MM/APJ]. Kansai – Taipei now boasts LCCs Jetstar Asia Airways [3K/JSA], Jetstar Japan [GK/JJP] (Jetstar Japan adds Nagoya and Kansai to Taipei.), homegrown Peach, Tigerair Taiwan [IT/TTW], and V Air [ZV/VAX], alongside legacy carriers Cathay Pacific Airways [CX/CPA], China Airlines [CI/CAL], EVA Air [BR/EVA], Japan Airlines [JL/JAL], and TransAsia Airways [GE/TNA]. Philippine Airlines [PR/PAL] is preparing to enter on June 25th as the 12th airline, making it the route with the most carriers in the world.

Vanilla Air has opened a reservations center in Taipei, and the new service is part of their strategy to make Taoyuan Airport its second hub, and their first outside Japan (Vanilla Air eyes China, Southeast Asia, and Okinawa hub.). From Taipei, it currently flies to Narita four times daily, and plans are underway to add Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam using fifth freedom rights, as well as Sapporo/New Chitose [CTS/RJCC]. "We hope to launch our first city in Southeast Asia by year-end. We've already decided which city, but we can't disclose that yet," said Katsuya Goto, Vanilla's new President from April 1st. It will coincide with the delivery of their 10th A320 this autumn.

"Together with Kaohsiung (Vanilla Air launches Kaohsiung but slows expansion.), the Taiwan market generates roughly 50-60% of our revenue, and 70-80% of our customers are Taiwanese," said Chairman Tomonori Ishii, who was promoted from President effective April 1st, adding "So Taiwan-originating travelers will probably make up most of our customer base for our first flights to Southeast Asia, but as we grow our network, we believe the Japanese will come along as well." In preparation for their Taipei hub, Vanilla has started offering a fly-through product, for now only available through Narita, which guarantees connections between their flights. An interline agreement with a LCC in Southeast Asia is also being considered.

The Narita-based LCC is expected to announce its first full-year profit for FY2015, which ended on March 31st. Vanilla Air is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ANA Holdings, parent of All Nippon Airways [NH/ANA].

Source: Toyo Keizai, 2016 April 9th. (in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Business, 2016 April 15th. (in Japanese)
Source: Traicy, 2016 April 28th. (in Japanese)
Source: Aviation Wire, 2016 April 28th. (in Japanese)
Source: MyNavi, 2016 April 28th. (in Japanese)

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