AirAsia partners Japanese online retailer Rakuten

Malaysia’s AirAsia has partnered Japan’s biggest online retailer, Rakuten Inc and other Japanese companies, in the launch of its latest attempt at entering the Japanese market. The new carrier, AirAsia Japan, will have an initial capitalisation of seven billion yen (US$69 million) and will start flying in about mid-2015 with a fleet of five A320 aircraft, the carrier’s CEO, Yoshinori Odagiri, said in early July.


AirAsia partners Japanese online retailer Rakuten


Malaysia’s AirAsia has partnered Japan’s biggest online retailer, Rakuten Inc and other Japanese companies, in the launch of its latest attempt at entering the Japanese market. The new carrier, AirAsia Japan, will have an initial capitalisation of seven billion yen (US$69 million) and will start flying in about mid-2015 with a fleet of five A320 aircraft, the carrier’s CEO, Yoshinori Odagiri, said in early July.

The airline will fly to both domestic and international destinations, but has yet to decide which airport it will be its base, he added.

For Malaysian-based AirAsia, the venture with businesses not involved in the airline industry is another attempt to expand to Japan after it pulled out of a partnership with the country’s biggest carrier ANA Holdings Inc last year.

That venture, launched in 2011, failed to woo travellers and ANA blamed poor marketing and a user-unfriendly website. The airline has since been rebranded into Vanilla Air, and is now wholly owned by ANA and based out of Tokyo’s Narita airport. The LCC phenomenon is still fairly new to Japan with budget carriers accounting for only three per cent of the travel market there, compared with 30 per cent in Southeast Asia and 50 per cent in the US. Of the nine low cost carriers flying within Japan, six including Peach Aviation, Jetstar Japan and Air Do are controlled or affiliated to the nation’s big two carriers – Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA).