Aug 21, 2013

Vanilla Air to focus on international flights based in Narita Airport

AirAsia Japan announced on August 20 that it will be rebranded to Vanilla Air starting November this year. Operation as AirAsia will go on until October 26, with flights under the Vanilla Air brand to kick off in late-December. Based in Narita Airport, the airline will place heavy emphasis on international flights, gearing to offer flights to resorts and pleasure destinations. It will begin operating with two A320 aircrafts, but it intends to boost its fleet to five units within fiscal 2013 and then to eight and 10 units in fiscals 2014 and 2015, respectively. At the press briefing held on August 20, the airline's president, Tomonori Ishii (Photo), said that they also intend to expand revenues from incidental businesses, but are not thinking of engage in cargo transport.

In light of the breakdown of the merger with AirAsia in late-June this year, AirAsia Japan became a wholly owned subsidiary of ANA Holdings. Operation under the new brand of Vanilla Air is scheduled to commence toward the end of December this year.

At the news conference held on August 20, Ishii talked about the issue with AirAsia Japan, explaining that, "Aside from the non-user-friendliness of its ticketing system, the development of flight courses took too long. We lacked a competitive edge in terms of flight routes and number of flights." The company has launched an internal project that is currently extracting the issues and problems, with Ishii claiming that, "We will boost revenues and improve cost effectiveness by solving these problems."

With regard to the opening of flights as Vanilla Air, Ishii commented that, "We will place emphasis on international flight and with Narita as the base, we will specialize in routes to resorts and pleasure destinations."

As for the backdrop of the focus on international flights, Ishii stressed that, "International flights operate in a long-distance and we can get the unit price. We hope to become the first full-fledged international low-cost carrier (LCC) with flights to/from Narita Airport." With regard to aircrafts, the airline plans to build a 10-unit A320 fleet by fiscal 2015. "We will fly with A320 aircrafts, so we will offer short-distance flights that take roughly four hours or less. We will also consider offering medium-range flights in the future," said Ishii.

Ishii also disclosed the airline's plan to boost revenues from ancillary businesses such as onboard sales and to promote collaboration with other industries. AirAsia Japan aims to expand ancillary revenues, which currently stand at 17-18%, to 20-25%. Meanwhile, he explained that they are not thinking of engaging in the cargo business for now.

The new brand, Vanilla Air, was chosen as vanilla is loved all over the world for its simple and sophisticated taste, and its smell that makes people relaxed and satisfied. The company claimed that, "We hope that people will travel by air using Vanilla Air. We would like people from Japan, Asia and other parts of the world to enjoy easier air travel and experience more rewarding leisure."

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