• Kyodo, Bloomberg

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All Nippon Airways Co. expects annual sales at its budget airline joint venture with Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd. to exceed ¥100 billion in five to six years after it starts operations next year, the company’s president said in a recent interview.

“If it acquires 30 aircraft in five to six years as planned now, its sales will easily exceed ¥100 billion a year,” Shinichiro Ito said of AirAsia Japan Co., which will next August begin offering flights to and from Narita International Airport.

The expected annual sales for AirAsia Japan could eclipse the ¥58 billion in the year ending this past March at Skymark Airlines Inc., which has taken advantage of lower fares to boost its earnings in the country.

Asked about reasons for ANA’s entry into the low-cost carrier business, Ito said overseas LCCs will launch flights to and from Narita as the airport’s landing and takeoff slots are scheduled to increase.

“We must take pre-emptive action,” he said.

AirAsia Japan will be owned 67 percent by ANA and 33 percent by AirAsia, known as the biggest LCC in Asia.

ANA has also founded Peach Aviation Ltd. as a joint low-cost carrier with Hong Kong-based investment firms to operate flights to and from Kansai International Airport.

“It may compete against AirAsia Japan,” Ito said, adding that ANA has no current plan to merge the two LCCs.

Ito also said ANA plans to put Boeing Co.’s medium-size Dreamliner 787 aircraft into service for Japan-Europe flights by next March. ANA will be the first carrier in the world to introduce the 787.

ANA is also considering opening as many as three European routes that wouldn’t support larger planes, he said.

“The 787 presents us with a big opportunity,” Ito said.

The carrier aims to start Dreamliner flights to Europe from Haneda airport in February, he said, declining to elaborate on possible destinations.

Boeing rolled out the first 787 painted in ANA’s livery on Saturday at its plant in Everett, Washington, as it prepares to begin deliveries of the aircraft following more than three years of delays. The planes may allow ANA to add new routes in Europe and North America as they can fly farther than aircraft of a similar size and are about 20 percent more fuel efficient.

ANA, which has ordered 55 Dreamliners, is due to get 12 of the planes by the end of March. Another eight will be handed over in the subsequent 12 months.

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