Thursday, September 16, 2010

AirAsia X opens tickets to Tokyo from next week

15 September 2010

Airline will be first foreign low-cost carrier serving Haneda airport from Dec 9

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia X will begin flights to Haneda airport in Tokyo on Dec 9 and open ticket sales for the sector next week.

The airline plans to mount three weekly flights and it will be the first foreign low-cost carrier serving the airport that is expected to open for international flights in late October.

Asashi newspaper in Japan reported that AirAsia X was expected to price fares far lower than those charged for existing services between the capitals of Japan and Malaysia offered by Japan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

Azran Osman-Rani says flying to Tokyo would be ‘super exciting.’

AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani declined to reveal any pricing when contacted yesterday by StarBiz. But the market is abuzz with talk that the introductory price could range from RM99 to RM199.

Azran said that flying to Tokyo would be “super exciting as finally people will have choices and low fares to go to great places.’’

Three flights per week may be too few for AirAsia X but for now the airline does not have much of a choice.

It is learnt that the Japanese authorities had accorded seven rights and the Malaysian authorities awarded three each to AirAsia X and MAS, and one to Transmile.

“Japan is a high fixed cost city and with so few flights it would be difficult to make the sector sustainable so we will have to convince the authorities to grant us daily flights,” Azran said.

MAS will introduce three flights a week between Kota Kinabalu and Haneda from Nov 15.

Haneda airport is the main domestic hub for Tokyo but due to congestion in Narita, it will start receiving international flights next month. Haneda is just a 20-minute monorail or cab ride from downtown Tokyo whereas Narita is at least an hour’s train ride, and the trip can take over two hours by car on clogged roads.

To beat potential competition from six foreign low-cost carriers from China and South-East Asia, both Japanese carriers – Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) – want to set up low-cost airlines.

ANA has inked a deal with Hong Kong’s First Eastern Investment Group to set up a new airline that will start operations in the second half of 2011. ANA will own 39% in the venture and Far Eastern 33%. The balance equity will be sold to other investors.


By B.K.Sidhu

The Star

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