Wed, Aug 21, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Japanese budget carrier rebranded as ‘Vanilla Air’

FLAVOR OF THE MONTH:Vanilla Air, which will commence flights in late December, is to target travelers heading to resort destinations from Japan

AFP, TOKYO

AirAsia Japan president Tomonori Ishii unveils its new name “Vanilla Air” during a press conference in Tokyo yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Budget carrier AirAsia Japan is being rebranded as Vanilla Air, the airline announced yesterday, with its president saying that vanilla is “loved by everyone in the world.”

Executives chose Vanilla Air from more than 200 other names, taking a month and a half to decide.

“We chose vanilla as our brand name because it is popular and loved by everyone in the world,” the airline’s president Tomonori Ishii told a news conference in Tokyo. “I think it is a very cute name.”

The name was chosen following the break-up of a joint venture between the airline’s parent companies, Malaysia-based AirAsia and Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA), which now wholly owns the carrier.

The airlines announced in June that the joint venture would be terminated by the end of October, just over a year after the carrier began flying out of Tokyo’s Narita airport, due to a slump.

Vanilla Air, which will begin flights in late December with two passenger planes to be leased from ANA, is to target travelers heading for resort destinations. All of AirAsia Japan’s 420 staff will now become employees of Vanilla Air.

Ishii said the carrier would remain based at Narita airport, and aims to serve travelers to resort destinations both at home and overseas, mainly in Asia.

“We will begin with short-distance services, but want to expand the range to mid-and long-distances in line with ANA’s branding strategy,” Ishii said, adding that it would also increase the number of airplanes to 10 in 2015.

He said further details about the new operation would be announced late next month.

AirAsia Japan, which was equally controlled by AirAsia and ANA, booked an operating loss of about ¥3.5 billion (US$36 million) for the year to March.

Ishii said the slump was partially due to the company’s extra focus on online sales — a key strategy for AirAsia, but many Japanese travelers still book flights through travel agents.

A company spokeswoman said the new company would cooperate with travel agents, while introducing a new online ticketing system that “can be fit to local customers.”

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