The orange star livery of the Jetstar Group has been a common sight in Toyko for several years since the Australian-based LCC began operating international services there, but soon it will be plying the skies across Japan with the launch of a new regional spin-off.
Jetstar Japan, a joint venture between the Qantas Group, Japan Airlines and the Mitsubishi Corporation, has brought forward its launch date to July, with the beginning of scheduled services from Tokyo’s Narita to Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Okinawa.
This will put the carrier in direct competition with Peach and AirAsia Japan, which has applied to operate to Sapporo, Fukuoka and Okinawa from Narita from August.
Bracing itself for these arrivals, incumbent low-cost carrier, Skymark Airlines also plans to expand; growing its network from Narita to nine destinations by 2014.
With competition from Japan’s high-speed bullet train heaped on top, is there room for so many LCCs in one market? Well Miyuki Suzuki, CEO of Jetstar Japan, for one believes there is.
“Competition is healthy. We welcome it, it is good for the travel industry and customers will benefit,” says Suzuki. “Because the broader Jetstar Group is the largest LCC in the Asia-Pacific region by revenue, our brand recognition is already the greatest among LCCs which fly into and out of Japan. We believe our new fleet, value-based fares, choice of destinations and service present a very competitive offering.”
Primarily targeting leisure traffic, Jetstar Japan is expecting many of its passengers to be first-time flyers taking advantage of cheap airfares to ditch the bus or train, but there will also be potential synergies with the wider Jetstar Group to bring a greater influx of foreign tourists into Japan.
Since launching services there five years ago from Manila and the Gold Coast, Jetstar has carried some five million passengers to and from Japan and the launch of Jetstar Japan is a natural extension of the group’s activities into the country’s intra-regional market.
“Jetstar Japan is integral to the Jetstar Group’s pan-Asian growth strategy and will serve to provide both inbound and outbound passenger feeds to other Jetstar services that fly the Japan–Australia route and also link Japan with other destinations in Asia and Oceania,” she explains.
Initially operating with three A320s, Jetstar Japan’s fleet is expected to grow to 24 in the first few years of operation and the carrier plans to launch international routes in 2013. Given these are to be short-haul destinations, there is a strong probability these will include South Korea and Taiwan.
Other opportunities for growth include a potential codeshare agreement with Japan Airlines on its domestic routes – a proposal that is currently “under discussion”, but for Suzuki the first test is to make sure that its initial destinations, chosen by popular demand, especially via Facebook she says, prove successful.
“I know from my own experience that being a CEO of any large company is very challenging. Start-up companies in particular require a lot of hard work and careful decision-making.
“My strength and experience is in senior leadership roles across Asia. From my time working in telecommunications in Japan, I understand the specific challenges that face companies in sectors that are deregulating,” she says.
This article features in Routes News 2012 Issue 2