Japanese airlines eye low-cost services to drive post-pandemic growth

Japan Times -- May 10
While uncertainty remains over when — or even if — travel demand will make a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan’s two major airlines are positioning themselves to take advantage of any upturn with a punt on low-cost services.

With leisure demand expected to recover much faster than business travel, ANA Holdings Inc. and Japan Airlines Co. are both strengthening ties with low-cost carriers (LCCs).

But the moves by the two airlines, which have established themselves as full-service carriers, could be a double-edged sword, aviation experts say.

ANA Holdings, the parent company of All Nippon Airways Co., is planning to launch a new LCC brand in the year to March 2023 with flights connecting Japan with Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Its domestic rival JAL said Friday it will make Spring Airlines Japan Co. a consolidated subsidiary in June. The unit of major Chinese LCC Spring Airlines Co. will take its place in the JAL group alongside wholly-owned budget airline Zipair Tokyo Inc., which started operations last year in the midst of the pandemic.

The two budget carriers reflect JAL’s strategic shift away from what used to be seen as a cautious stance on LCCs.

- Japan Times