Jetstar Japan’s first ever flight has taken off at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.
The inaugural service saw an Airbus A320 carry 180 passengers from Narita to Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport this morning. On board the first flight was Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, who claimed the new airline would boost domestic travel in Japan.
“With Jetstar we have developed a highly efficient low-cost carrier model that enables us to stimulate new demand by making air travel more affordable,” said Joyce. “The strong customer response to Jetstar Japan shows there’s a huge appetite for low fare travel options in this market.”
The airline launched five months ahead of schedule and less than 12 months after joint venture between Qantas, JAL and Mitsubishi was first announced.
The airline will initially operate four daily flights on the Tokyo-Sapporo route and three flights a day between Tokyo and Fukuoka. Then from 9 July Jetstar Japan will commence twice daily flights to Okinawa and Osaka’s Kansai airport. A further two daily flights will be introduced on 24 August, connecting Osaka with both Sapporo and Fukuoka.
Jetstar Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said the new domestic services will be boosted by Jetstar’s flights from Singapore and Australia into Japan.
“Jetstar has been operating international flights into Japan from Australia and Singapore for the past five years, so this domestic operation is starting from a position of strength when it comes to consumer recognition and trust,” said Ms Hrdlicka.
“Jetstar is already the largest low fares airline in the Asia Pacific region by revenue and early signs are that we’re on track to become the number one LCC in Japan,” she added.
This claim will be tested however, by the launch of AirAsia’s rival Japanese domestic low-cost carrier, AirAsia Japan, in August. The ANA-backed airline will compete directly with Jetstar Japan on several routes, including Tokyo-Sapporo, Tokyo-Fukuoka and Tokyo-Okinawa. Jetstar’s flights from Osaka meanwhile, will go up against ANA’s other new low-cost unit, Peach Aviation, which launched flights from Kansai earlier this year.
Jetstar Japan will initially operate a fleet of three A320s all configured in a single class seating 180 passengers. The airline plans to expand this to 24 aircraft “within the first few years”. The airline plans to launch short-haul international services in 2013.