Business / Corporate

Japan Airlines to start budget carrier ahead of 2020 Olympics

Kyodo

Japan Airlines Co. said Monday it plans to launch a low-cost carrier operating medium- to long-haul flights in summer 2020, the time Tokyo will be hosting the Summer Olympics and international traffic will be busy.

The budget carrier, to be set up this July as a JAL group subsidiary, will operate between Narita International Airport and destinations in Asia, Europe and the Americas, starting with two midsize Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

“We want to play a role in boosting foreign travelers to Japan,” JAL President Yuji Akasaka said at a news conference in Tokyo.

JAL’s participation in the budget flight market has so far been limited to a 33.3 percent stake in Jetstar Japan Co., the same held by Australia’s Qantas Group.

The new airline will expand JAL’s low-cost flight coverage, with Jetstar operating only domestic flights and short-haul international flights between Japan and Asian cities.

ANA Holdings Inc. announced in March that it will integrate its low-cost carrier affiliates Peach Aviation Ltd. and Vanilla Air Inc., and start middle-distance international flights within Asia around 2020.

Low-cost carriers currently handle around 10 percent of air passengers within Japan. The figure is expected to rise to some 30 percent, the level seen overseas, in the near future while the national government aims to increase the number of foreign visitors to 40 million by 2020 and 60 million by 2030.