Japan's budget airlines have flown into turbulence with AirAsia's local carrier in danger of being grounded, but analysts say the popularity of discount flying should keep the fledgling sector in the sky.
Earlier this month, Malaysia-based AirAsia warned it might pull the plug on its partnership with All Nippon Airways (ANA), citing management tensions.
While details of the dispute remain unclear, AirAsia, the region's dominant budget carrier, said its Japanese business was "facing some challenges attributed to a difference of opinion in management, most critically on the points of how to operate a low cost business and operating from Narita."
It added that AirAsia Japan was suffering from an "inability to manage costs."
A key constraint on the country's budget carriers is that they have been shut out of Haneda Airport, just a short train ride from downtown Tokyo and the staging point for the most profitable domestic routes, which are controlled by ANA and rival Japan Airlines (JAL).
Flying out of Narita International Airport requires a one-hour train ride from the city center, a long-standing headache for travellers, including passengers with AirAsia Japan and Jetstar Japan, a joint venture between JAL and Australia's Qantas.
The Japanese aviation industry has long been notorious for sky-high landing fees and fuel taxes, in a market that was controlled for decades by JAL and ANA, the country's two dominant carriers.
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