The first flight of Jetstar Japan Co., a budget airline funded by Japan Airlines Co., took off Tuesday from Narita International Airport bound for New Chitose Airport near Sapporo.
With the launch, Jetstar became the second discount airline to serve domestic routes in Japan, following the Osaka Prefecture-based Peach Aviation Ltd, a budget carrier owned partly by All Nippon Airways Co. The move appears to set the stage for a full-fledged price war between discount carriers across Japan.
Starting with the launch of Narita-New Chitose and Narita-Fukuoka routes on Tuesday, Jetstar next week will fly between Narita and Kansai International Airport in Osaka and between Narita and Naha Airport in Okinawa Prefecture. On August 24, it will start services connecting Kansai International with New Chitose and with Fukuoka.
Jetstar Japan has said it may grow its fleet to 100 planes by the end of the decade as it lures travellers with fares less than half those charged by JAL and All Nippon Airways Co., the nation’s two biggest airlines. Besides Peach Aviation, AirAsia Japan Co. is starting budget flights in Japan this year following the addition of new capacity at Narita.
Peach, which began services in March, estimates up to 40 percent of its customers are first-time fliers, President Shinichi Inoue said last month. The airline and AirAsia Japan are both part-owned by ANA. AirAsia Japan is also backed by AirAsia Bhd., the region’s biggest low-cost carrier.
Jetstar Japan expects budget airlines to roughly triple their share of Japanese air travel to 35 percent by 2020.
Skymark Airlines Inc., Japan’s biggest discounter, is also boosting services.
Jetstar Japan is offering one-way tickets to Sapporo from Narita for JPY 4,490 on its website. JAL is advertising tickets from JPY 12,300 flying from Tokyo’s Haneda airport in August and September, according to its website.
ANA purchase plans
All Nippon Airways Co. plans to raise JPY 200 billion through a public offering of new shares as it seeks to purchase new aircraft to compete with rival carriers, sources said Tuesday.
ANA plans to introduce the fuel-efficient Boeing 787, suited for long-haul flights, on its international routes using funds raised through its first public offering since July 2009, the sources said.
Japan Airlines Co. is set to go public again in September after rebuilding itself from bankruptcy and logging a record JPY 204.9 billion in group operating profit for the 2011 business year, beating the record set the preceding year.
With low-cost carriers launching and expanding routes, ANA has decided to raise funds in a bid to keep its services competitive, the sources said.
The infrastructure and transport ministry has decided to begin studies this fall on ways to sell Japan’s airport construction, air traffic control and other technologies overseas.
The ministry is setting up a task force comprising officials from within its ranks, building companies, manufacturers and airports, ministry officials said.
Indonesia is expected to be the first target as it is planning an airport development project in the Jakarta area.
Senior vice Transport minister Osamu Yoshida, who attended a task force meeting Monday, said Asia will become the biggest market for airport-related equipment and services in 2025, stressing the importance of “packaged approaches to the entire aviation industry” through public- and private-sector collaboration.