ANA successor to AirAsia: Vanilla Air

Bloomberg, Kyodo

After spending a month and a half sifting through 200 names for its new budget airline, ANA Holdings Inc. decided on the plainest one: Vanilla Air.

“Vanilla is loved by everyone in the world,” Tomonori Ishii, president of the new airline based at Narita airport, told reporters in Tokyo Tuesday. “The smell of vanilla makes people relaxed.”

The budget airline will start operating under the new name from late December, focusing more on international flights connecting Narita airport with tourist destinations overseas, Ishii said.

“Our new brand will offer such value as competitive air fares and a (booking) system that can be used easily by everyone,” while air fares will be about half those of major airlines, he said.

The airline will announce flight routes in late September, he said.

ANA, Japan’s second-largest airline by sales, is rebranding its low-cost carrier after a venture with Sepang, Malaysia-based AirAsia Bhd. dissolved in June over disagreements on how to run the company.

With the end of the business collaboration, AirAsia Japan will return aircraft to the Malaysian carrier after completing its final flights on Oct. 26.

The new airline and ANA hired “several” agencies to come up with a list of brands, before a decision was made by Ishii and ANA executives, said Kumiko Imai, a spokeswoman at AirAsia Japan. She declined to provide the other name choices.

AirAsia Japan, which began operations last August, has five domestic flights. It also flies to Seoul and Busan in South Korea. The carrier planned to add flights to Taiwan next month and was considering another overseas flight before the end of March as it more than doubled its fleet to nine planes from four.

Other low-cost carriers around the world include Mango Airlines SOC Ltd. in South Africa and SpiceJet Ltd. in India. ANA also holds a 39 percent stake in another Japanese budget airline, called Peach Aviation.

Charters to Bangkok

NARITA, Chiba Pref.

A charter airline affiliated with major Japanese travel agency H.I.S. Co. launched operations Tuesday.

Asia Atlantic Airlines, or AAA, plans to operate one round-trip service between Narita International Airport and Bangkok a day until Nov. 4, using the 252-seat Boeing 767.

Airfares on the route are lower than those offered by major airlines, with the prices of round-trip tickets starting at ¥54,000.

AAA, based in Bangkok, aims to vie with low-cost carriers by offering better in-flight services. The carrier, owned 88 percent by H.I.S. and a Thai unit, hopes to attract demand in Asian countries by utilizing the travel agency’s branches in the region.

  • j_chris_walter

    I offer this with the greatest respect. Cross-culturally
    this name, Vanilla Air, may have issues. One meaning, and a common one,
    for “vanilla” in English is plain, bland, or even boring. I am sure
    that is not the intended connotation that was intended for this business
    venture. Additionally, the connotation I get from the name is
    that there will not be much in the way of service or frills with this
    ‘plain vanilla’ airline. Is this true?

    RELAX… is a name that seems to fit the concept behind the airline. RELAX
    could be seen to elicit pictures in the mind of potential customers of
    the destinations the airline will be servicing while targeting tourist
    destinations. Additionally, it could be marketed as the concept behind
    the service or friendliness the airline will provide, “Just RELAX, we
    will take good care of you in your travels.” Succinct name with
    an interesting visual character (‘X’), which is also short (as a word)
    making it easy to create a logo out of.

    Yes, I realize that the main marketing target may not be English
    speaking, but why limit your market potential with your name?

    (My apologies if I have offended anyone.)

    • Mark Makino

      The name has the distinct stink of transplanted English most often seen at 100-yen stores.

  • tony virili

    Lets get it right this time. The Japanese travelling public is ready for LCCs.

  • Quentin Hope

    I’m guessing whoever came up with the name is either a Tom Cruise fan or not very original. A little movie called Vanilla Sky.