Malaysian long-haul budget airline AirAsia X is to launch regular flights between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo starting on Thursday, airport officials said.
Its inauguration flight is scheduled to depart from Tokyo's Haneda airport at 11:45 pm (1445 GMT). The carrier plans three flights a week connecting the Malaysian capital with the Tokyo airport, the officials said.
It will be the first foreign budget airline authorised to use Haneda, which began handling an expanded array of international flights in October when it opened a fourth runway and a new terminal. Haneda is considered more practical than its sister airport Narita as it is located only 30 minutes from Tokyo, roughly half the amount of time it takes to travel to Narita, which is 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the capital.
AirAsia X plans to sell a one-way ticket for 5,000 yen (60 dollars) for an economy seat from Japan as an opening discount, compared with economy fares of more than 200,000 yen offered by current route operators.
AirAsia's entry into the Japanese market is expected to further boost competition in a space that is set to become increasingly crowded as more budget carriers enter the fray.
In September Japan's All Nippon Airways said it will establish a low-cost carrier by the end of the year that will eventually operate international and domestic short-haul routes, anticipating booming Asian demand. Debt-hit Japan Airlines has also said it is also looking into the possibility of launching a low-cost carrier.
Japan's existing cheaper domestic carriers such as Skymark and Air Do have been unable to offer the kind of heavily discounted fares associated with budget airlines in the United States and Europe due to higher operating costs.
Qantas Airways' budget Jetstar airline already flies between Australia and Japan from Osaka and Narita.
Source : MSNNews
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