AirAsia made an announcement today in Tokyo that they are launching AirAsia Japan in partnership with Rakuten and other Japanese investors that will own 51% of the airlines and AirAsia the rest (49%).
AirAsia had entered the Japanese market in partnership with ANA back in 2012. The venture turned sour, AirAsia got out and the airline was rebranded as Vanilla Air.
Now, the Japanese partners are all non-airlines that should make it easier for AirAsia to run the entity once it is expected to take off in June 2015. The airline plans to initially have just couple of planes but will scale it to five within the first 6 months or so.
There was a very good interview of the AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes that I saw on Bloomberg.
AirAsia X flies to several Japanese cities and Thai AirAsia X is expected to shortly start service to Japan.
The low coast carrier sector is not very well developed in Japan as the market is dominated by JAL and ANA owned airlines. Let’s hope that this second try by AirAsia is more successful than the first one.