AirAsia will be partnering up with e-retailer Rakuten as it makes a move into the Japanese market.This is AirAsia’s second venture into the market as its partnership with ANA was called off last year.
According to Reuters, Rakuten will aim to boost its online travel site through the venture. It will also create new business to fight off competiton from other online e-retailers. Hiroshi Mikitani who owns the site was quoted saying: “In America, discount carriers account for 30% of travel. In Southeast Asia, it’s 50%. In Japan, it’s only 3%.”
Odagiri Yoshinori, chief executive officer of AirAsia Japan added that counterparts in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and India have seen great and encouraging responses in their markets, and the brand hopes to work towards similar goals for Japan.
Currently AirAsia Japan is working with the relevant authorities to obtain necessary operational approvals. The budget carrier plans to start both domestic and international flights by the summer of 2015.
While AirAsia will take 49% stake in the new carrier, Rakuten will hold on 18%. The other partners such as sporting goods company Alpen will hold 5% ; cosmetics firm Noevir will have 9% and Octave Japan Infrastructure Fund will own 19%.
In a press statement, Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of AirAsia said: “We are very excited to return to Japan’s skies together with Octave, Rakuten, Noevir and Alpen this time round. I am more confident than ever that AirAsia Japan, led by Odagiri Yoshinori with the strong partnership we have with our new investors, will continue to realise our vision to revolutionise the low-cost carrier segment of Japan.”