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News on the Asian low cost front

Low cost airilines: Jet Star

If, in Europe, I have not seen dramatic changes in low-cost company offers, instead, in Asia, where low costs have caught on greatly, there continues to be an extraordinary effervescence … “The Final Frontiers”, where low costs have not really reached like Japan and China, seem to falter, long-haul low-costs seem to be taking off, and we can only notice an effervescence which generates small prices across East Asia… So, if you want to visit this part of the continent, here are the main movements.

Obviously, I cannot begin with anything else but Air Asia, the “father” of the Asian low cost.  In their case, I would see a greater focus on Austro / East Asian markets, giving up their European and some South Asian routes. Air Asia X, the “long haul” wing, seems not to be coping so well. Since the beginning of the year, they have canceled the European flights to Paris and London (complaining about excessive taxes, but, actually, being hit by the small prices offered by the “luxury” companies of the Gulf), cancelled the flights to India (Kuala Lumpur to Mumbai and Delhi) and the much promoted flight to Christchurch, New Zealand, closing, actually, the only low-cost direct flight from the land of the Lord of the Rings and Southeastern Asia. I saw Azran Osman-Rani, the CEO of Air Asia X, on CNN the other day, saying that a low-cost company on flights which are longer than eight hours has little economical justification, so we should expect a strengthening of the flights through Eastern Asia to Australia (eventually, Air Asia X started operating the Kuala Lumpur – Sydney flight since beginning of April, after having lobbied, for years to get the governmental approval of operation).

In contrast, Toni, Air Asia’s CEO cannons, are targeted on Asia. Starting last week, they began operations of the newest subsidiary of Air Asia – Air Asia Philippines.  The newly-born Air Asia kid opened a hub in the Clark Base near Angeles, the city of the Filipino sex (located at over one hundred kilometers away from Manila and linked by the only highway in the country), with inaugural flights to Davao and Kalibo (serving Boracay), the next step being towards Palawan, in Puerto Princesa. But, of course, we will soon also see the first international flights of Air Asia Philippines.

Air Asia Japan will start operations in August with internal flights from the hub in Tokyo Narita to Fukuoka, Okinawa and Sapporo, followed by the first international flights to South Korea in October (Seoul and Busan). Japan Air Asia is a joint venture between Air Asia and ANA (All Nippon Airways), one of the largest Japanese airline companies that have already launched their own low-cost with the hub in Osaka called the Peach which has already started flights on March 1 with the flights Osaka – Sapporo and Fukuoka. Since May, Peach will start flying from Osaka to Seoul, since July, we will see Osaka to Hong Kong flying and, starting October, from Osaka to Taipei, becoming, practically, the first low-cost company in Japan! Let it be welcome and enjoy success!!!

And, since I was speaking of the “deflowering” of the Japanese airspace by low-costs, a third low cost company will soon begin operations. It is Jet Star Japan which will start operations on July 3rd, 2012, operating from the Narita hub to Japanese destinations: Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Okinawa, entering direct competition with Air Asia Japan at about a month after the inauguration … So, expect low prices and flights from Japan! Jet Star Japan already announced 1 yen flight tickets ! Let it come !

So, Japan is on the right way for low cost flights Revolution, what about its giant neighbor, China where nothing has been done yet ! Not until recently, when thanks God, I saw an announcement regarding the first low-cost on Chinese territory. True, it is not right in the People’s Republic, the hub will be in Hong Kong, but this is, probably, the first step to a huge market. If, in Japan, Air Asia won over the Australians’ Jetstar, at least, declaratively (the Air Asia – ANA partnership was announced a week before the JAL – Jetstar – Mitsubishi one), in China, Jet Star hits first. The Australian low-carrier announced on March 26, that China Eastern and Qantas (Jetstar’s parent) decided to open the Jetstar Hong Kong low-cost company, which will start operating in 2013, on the Hong Kong airport to destinations from the People’s Republic, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia. I expect Air Asia not to stay put for so long and soon counterattack with Air Asia China, probably with the hub in the People’s Republic.

Another important novelty is that Singapore Airlines have decided to launch a low cost company over long distances, to counter Air Asia X. The new company has a quite strange name, Scoot, beginning operations on June 27, in Singapore, to two destinations in Australia: Sydney and Gold Coast, followed by Tianjin (near Beijing) in August. Despite the difficulties of Air Asia X, the Singaporean company is confident in Scoot. Let’s watch it!

And, finally, a good piece of news from the Philippines, too: Cebu Pacific, the funniest airline that I have ever flown, yes, the one with the dancer air hostesses, announced it would open a long-haul airline starting with the third quarter of 2013. Millions of Filipinos work as maids, builders or artists worldwide, and the prices of plane tickets to the Philippines are generally prohibitive … so Cebu Pacific are thinking about low cost flights from Manila to Europe, Middle East, Australia and USA. “There are 293,000 Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia,” said CEO to the Cebu Pacific … so should we expect a Manila – Jeddah flight among the first?

So, let us recap the schedule of the low cost explosion in Asia.

March 1, 2012. The launch of the first low cost Japanese company, Peach, with flights from Osaka to Fukuoka and Sapporo
March 28, 2012. Inaugural Air Asia Philippines flights: the Clark base to Davao and Kalibo (Boracay)
April 1, 2012. Inaugural Air Asia X flight Kuala Lumpur – Sydney
May 2012: the first international Peach flight: Osaka – Seoul.
June 27, 2012. The Singapore long-haul Scoot company begins operations with the Singapore – Sydney and Gold Coast in Australia flights.
July 3, 2012. Jetstar Japan operations begin from Tokyo Narita to Fukuouka, Osaka, Sapporo and Okinawa.
July 2012. The first low-cost flight between Japan and China: Osaka – Hong Kong operated by Peach.
August 2012. Scoot starts the flights to China: Singapore – Tianjin (near Beijing).
August 2012. Air Asia Japan Tokyo starts operations from the Tokyo airport, Narita, to destinations in Japan: Fukuouka, Okinawa and Sapporo.
2013. Jetstar Hong Kong, the first Chinese low-cost starts operations in Hong Kong.
August 2013. The first long-haul flights of Cebu Pacific in Manila. The destinations yet unannounced, but, certainly, there will also be Middle East destinations.
And I am still waiting for the announcement of the Air Asia X Kuala Lumpur flights – Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen …


Low cost airlines: Air Asia

Air Asia

low cost airlines: Jet Start

Jet Start

Low cost airlines: Peach


Low cost airlines: Fly scoot

This is how Scoot is going to look like

Low cost airline: Cebu Pacific

Cebu Pacific


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