The large Asian population, combined with a rapidly developing middle class in a period of economic growth, is spurring demand for more and cheaper flights. This year Asia will see a sizable increase in the number of low-cost carriers flying around the region, offering travellers more options.
alone saw the announcement of three budget carriers in Japan with Peach Aviation, AirAsia Japan and Jetstar
Japan, an offshoot off Qantas’ low-budget Jetstar, all spreading their wings.
Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation
estimates that an additional 200 million air passengers (from the roughly 650
million Asia-Pacific air travellers currently flying), could be travelling in
north Asia each year if the Japan-South Korea-northern China triangle continues
to liberalise its airspace.
expect to see a complete deregulating of Asia’ skies anytime soon however, with
the kind of bargain basement pricing seen in Europe and North America. The main
issue in Asia, when compared to these regions, is that there are no
multilateral open-sky agreements.
low-cost model is currently more prevalent in the South Asia market place than
the North Asia one, according to the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation. In
northeast Asia low-cost carriers only account for 7% of capacity, while in
Southeast Asia they account for one third, and in South Asia it’s close to a half.
(Expect to see those percentages increase in the coming months.)
Japan’s aviation market, one of the most regulated in the region in terms of
restrictions on access to the number of airport gates and airline ownership ,
is in the process of embracing the low-cost model of air travel popular in
All Nippon Airways is backing Peach
Aviation, which has already started flying from Osaka’s Kansai Airport to
Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Nagasaki and Sapporo and is offering fares about one-half
those of major airlines. In July, the airline will add Okinawa and international
routes to Hong Kong, Seoul and Taipei will be launched later.
August, AirAsia Japan plans to operate domestic flights from Tokyo's Narita
Airport and international flights in 2013. It has the muscle of the region’s
biggest low-cost carrier Kuala-Lumpur based AirAsia,
which now dominates this sector in Southeast Asia.
the end of 2012, Jetstar Japan, which is a budget venture between Japan Airlines and Qantas’
low-fare unit, will connect Tokyo and Osaka. Expect keen fares going forwards, as
Jetstar Japan’s CEO has already made promises to local media not to lose a
price war. China Eastern Airlines
and Qantas are also joining hands to launch a low-cost carrier called Jetstar
Hong Kong. This follows in the path of other carriers from the same group, such
as Jetstar Pacific, which has
setup in Vietnam. But in China, where Spring Airlines is currently the only
mainland low-cost carrier operating international destinations including Hong
Kong and Japan, none of the big four mainland operators has a budget airline at
current high-priced buses and trains to and from airports is still an issue in
Japan and could dampen enthusiasm for any budget air travel. A one-way train fare from
central Tokyo to Narita airport by train could cost the same price as a one way
budget airline ticket to Hokkaido – roughly 3,000 Yen.
across Asia, Singapore Airlines has launched Scoot,
which will begin operations later in 2012, flying long-haul across the region
from Singapore to Sydney and Australia’s Gold Coast. Other budget airlines are
expanding, including Cebu Air, a
dominant player in the Philippines. Along with Malaysia’s AirAsia, Singapore’s Tiger Airways and Indonesia’s Lion Air are all taking delivery of new planes within
the next year.