Venture Republic CEO and co-founder Kei Shibata, speaking at CAPA's LCCs & New Age Airlines in North Asia conference in Macau, predicted (05-Sep-2012) the LCC penetration rate in Japan will reach 50% within five years. At below 10%, Japan currently has one of the lowest LCC penetration rates in the world but the market has seen this year the start of what Mr Shibata sees as a long overdue revolution with the launch of three LCCs – Peach, Jetstar Japan and AirAsia Japan. "We have been suffering the last two decades but finally we see some light at the end of the long tunnel," Mr Shibata said, adding, "It's definitely changing peoples behaviour". Venture Republic owns and runs Japan's leading online travel search engine Travel.jp.
Japan's LCC penetration rate to reach 50% within five years: Venture Republic CEO
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LCCs in North Asia: low average LCC penetration disguises achievements and intense competition
Northeast Asia is often thought of as a laggard for LCC development. After all, 11% of seats within the region are operated by LCCs compared with 56% in Southeast Asia and 40% in Western Europe. But attendees at CAPA's LCCs in North Asia summit at Tokyo Narita (7/8-Jun-2016) heard how these figures disguise significant inroads in certain markets: LCCs account for 40% of domestic Korea capacity, 38% of Japan-Korea and 30% of Taipei Taoyuan-Osaka Kansai.
CEOs from LCCs in Japan, Korea, mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan attested to their opportunities but also the challenges. Restrictive slots and traffic rights were a common theme and so too were protectionism, a slowly evolving regulator, and airspace constraints. Northeast Asian LCCs exclusively make up the U-Fly Alliance, while Northeast, Southeast and Australian LCCs are members of the Value Alliance. Southeast Asia is characterised by joint venture airlines operating with a single brand while Northeast Asia has more independent airlines.
LCCs gaining market share in the domestic China market will have the greatest impact on the region's overall share. Asia's airlines have varying strategies to access China growth. By deploying LCCs, Singapore Airlines serves more Chinese destinations than Cathay Pacific.
AirAsia exploring future opportunities in Northeast Asia: Chinese affiliate enticing, but difficult
AirAsia is doubling down its focus on North Asia with a regional office in Hong Kong overseen by former AirAsia executive Kathleen Tan, who is widely credited for AirAsia's strong Chinese relations and growth in China: AirAsia is the largest non-greater China airline company in the country. Across North Asia the opportunities are large, but the challenges equally big. A China-based AirAsia affiliate would appear to be a long term ambition.
More immediately, AirAsia is regaining a local Northeast Asia presence with the launch of AirAsia Japan Mk II in 2017. Although delayed from initial 2015 start-up projections, AirAsia Japan gives the group relevance in a large domestic market and significantly growing short haul international market.
Elsewhere in Northeast Asia the opportunities are mixed. Korea and Hong Kong are becoming saturated and remain protectionist. Macau and Taiwan are unlikely to be big enough to support a local AirAsia unit.