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.
Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, became on Tuesday the nation's first municipality to adopt an ordinance allowing it to issue certificates recognizing same-sex relationships as being "equivalent to marriage." (Japan Times)
In the wake of the suspicious crash of a Germanwings jet, the transport ministry is moving quickly to require all Japanese airlines to have two crew members in the cockpit at all times during flights. (Asahi)
The Japanese government said Monday it will send up to 142,600 personnel in emergency teams within 72 hours to 10 prefectures that are expected to suffer tremendous damage in the event of a major earthquake at the Nankai Trough off Japan's Pacific coast. (Jiji Press)
A third-party committee investigating the deaths of 11 patients who received laparoscopic surgery at the Chiba Cancer Center said Monday that at least seven patients received treatment without prior ethical screening despite the extremely difficult nature of the operations, which were not covered by public health insurance. (The Japan News)
Public prosecutors demanded Tuesday that former Aum Supreme Truth cult member Katsuya Takahashi, 56, be sentenced to life in prison for his roles in the 1995 deadly sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway system and other crimes by the doomsday cult. (The Japan News)
An elementary school teacher in Hyuga, Miyazaki Prefecture, has been arrested after it was discovered that he had lied to a newspaper reporter regarding the presence of a foreign substance in a rice ball ("onigiri") lunch that he purchased at a convenience store. (Japan Today)
In the first application in Tokyo of a law that seeks to restrict the distribution of sexually explicit content for revenge purposes, police on Friday announced the arrest of a 50-year-old male for releasing illicit images of his former girlfriend, reports the Sankei Shimbun (March 27). (Tokyo Reporter)