TOKYO (eTN) – For more than a year, Azran Osman Rani, AirAsia X CEO,has been negotiating with Japanese authorities over landing rights into Japan and especially Tokyo. On September 21, he was finally officially announce that the airline will finally start flying from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo, beginning December 9, 2010. The carrier will offer three non-stop weekly flights to Tokyo Haneda.
The choice of the airport is probably the biggest surprise. For long, AirAsia X was tipped to use Tokyo’s dedicated low-cost airport in Ibaraki or even to Tokyo Narita, which offers discounts to new carriers. It might be, in fact, a slap for Ibaraki, Japan’s newest airport. Opened last March, the airport has so far failed to attract many international carriers beyond Spring Airlines, a Chinese carrier with flights to Shanghai. Ibaraki has landing fees up to 40 percent cheaper than Haneda airport. By contrast, Haneda is by far the most expensive airport in the Tokyo area due to its proximity to the capital. “We don’t get any dsicount on landing fees or any commercial support,” confirmed Mr. Osman Rani to eTurboNews.
Tokyo will be the twelfth destination for the airline after Australia, India, Taiwan, China, Europe, and Korea. To mark the opening of the sale of the new route, AirAsia X is offering an unbelievable promotional fare from as low as RM99 (US$32) one way from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo for the booking period from 23 to 26 September 23-26, 2010 for the travel period from December 9, 2010 to July 31, 2011. Promotional seats are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis and made exclusively available online.
Guests flying on this new route will have the chance to experience the new comfortable premium flatbed seats on the brand new A330 aircraft. The flatbed seats are standard business-class specifications with a 20” width, 60” pitch, and stretches out to 77” in the full reclining position. The seats feature universal power sockets, adjustable headrests, and built-in personal utilities such as a tray table, drink holder, reading light, and privacy screen. This new improvement positions AirAsia as a brand symbolizing innovation and excellence.
Azran Osman-Rani, chief executive officer, AirAsia X, said: “AirAsia X’s commencement of direct services to Tokyo from Kuala Lumpur is a new addition to our long-haul Asian network after Korea. We are pleased our long-standing ambition has finally pulled through and as the largest metropolitan city in the world; Tokyo represents an important feeder market into our growing international network. The three-times-weekly flight will strengthen our historic business and tourism links with Japan’s commercial center, adding real convenience and providing affordable international travel for everyone.
“We estimate that more than 60 percent of AirAsia X passengers to and from Tokyo will be first-time visitors, which will contribute significantly to tourism growth, allowing AirAsia X the opportunity to open up new market segments from Tokyo. This will further boost tourism traffic into Malaysia from Japan, which has already shown an increase in visitor arrivals to date in 2010 compared to last year.”
According to AirAsia X CEO, the direct connection will help to stimulate new travel demands and further tap the young working adults and families to travel to Malaysia and thereafter use Kuala Lumpur as a gateway to over 132 routes in Southeast Asia. “This translates into a low-cost yet efficient travel experience for guests who benefit from using the LCC Terminal in Kuala Lumpur to connect to destinations as diverse as Australia (Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne), China (Hangzhou, Tianjin, Chengdu), Taipei, and London,” commented Mr. Osman Rani. If the success of the new flight is confirmed, AirAsia X hopes then to launch direct flights to Osaka, Fukuoka, and Sapporo. However, we do not have any precise date in mind for the time being.”