Japan’s Spring Airlines

Spring Airlines Japan Tokyo

In June, a new budget airline, Spring Airlines Japan, begins flying out of Tokyo Narita serving three domestic destinations and eventually China. Spring Airlines already serves Japan from China.

Spring Japan is a joint venture with China’s Spring Airlines, China’s largest and oldest low-cost carrier. Theirs is an Asia-wide strategy similar to AirAsia and Jetstar, but will focus on the Chinese market, say the analysts.

Domestic passenger numbers are rising in Japan, up more than 9 percent last year. Japan is the third-largest domestic market in the world.

Spring’s launch fares are reported to be “about half” of ANA or JAL’s.

In the first quarter of this year, low-cost carriers (Peach Aviation, Jetstar Japan and Air Asia – relaunched as Vanilla Air) accounted for half the growth and flew 24% of Japan’s domestic traffic. All Nippon Airways (ANA), the world’s most punctual airline, carried 49% of domestic passengers.

Spring Japan, who plan to serve smaller domestic markets offering growth, say they’ll add two 737s this year, bringing their total to five and add five aircraft a year until they have a fleet of 20.

Eventually, Spring expects the China-Japan market will be huge. Spring Japan also plan to serve other Asian destinations, adding to the impact low-cost carriers have on travel in and out of Japan.

ANA and JAL are both growing domestically, but they predict future declines as low-cost carriers continue to grow.

Almost guaranteeing Spring’s success, Japan’s influential travel agency, JTB, invested 5% in Spring Airlines Japan. The investment will help the agency secure seats for package tours and perhaps be a player in the buildup to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The Tarmac’s View:  With the help of low-cost carriers, Japan’s domestic passenger counts are rebounding toward previous highs. So are short-haul international routes. Five years ago, budget airlines accounted for less than 5% of passengers in Japan, now it’s at 24%. Growth will continue. In the last year, Jetstar Japan added almost as many seats as JAL. Peach added almost as many seats as ANA. JAL and ANA project long-term declines in their domestic market and are focusing on international routes.

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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • dvs7310 at 5:41am April 09, 2014

    Looking forward to further downward pricing pressure on NH and JL. Except for Tokyo to Osaka, most domestic routes on the legacy carriers are ridiculous for the relatively short distance flown.

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