JETSTAR executives will be holding their breath tomorrow when they launch a new offshoot in Japan, a market where budget airlines are a phenomenon.
The biggest challenge for Jetstar Japan will be to convince the Japanese, who are accustomed to flying full-service airlines on domestic routes, to opt for a no-frills airline.
After years of lobbying to get it off the ground, Qantas’s chief executive, Alan Joyce, and Jetstar’s new chief executive, Jayne Hrdlicka, will join the boss of the Jetstar Japan, Miyuki Suzuki, on the first flight from Tokyo’s Narita Airport to Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido.
The launch has been brought forward by several months in an attempt to pip Jetstar’s arch-rival, AirAsia, in setting up domestic services in Japan.
The Royal Bank of Scotland transport analyst Mark Williams said the rationale for launching a new airline in Japan was strong but ”it’s just a question of how quickly the Japanese take to it”.
”The dynamics of the low-cost carrier market in Japan are untested, so it will be interesting to see what the take up is over there,” he said. ”In almost every other market globally, [the entry of budget airlines] has stimulated travel and [low-cost carriers] have broadly done well.”
The Macquarie Equities analyst Russell Shaw said the new budget airline was likely to succeed as long as it was marketed correctly and its passenger service was suitable for the Japanese market.
”The only challenge over time is that there will probably be a lot of pricing competition amongst the incumbents.”
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