by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) June 19, 2012
The head of budget airline Jetstar Japan, which is to launch domestic flights next month, said Tuesday its presence would not hamper efforts to revive its major shareholder Japan Airlines (JAL).
Miyuki Suzuki, chief executive of the low-cost carrier part-owned by JAL and Australia's Qantas, said a handful of new low-cost airlines in Japan would "stimulate" demand, which was hit by last year's quake-tsunami disasters and a sluggish economy.
"Anything that increases the willingness of customers to travel again is good for the industry as a whole," Suzuki told a news briefing ahead of the carrier's July 3 launch.
"And I think JAL factored that in" when it decided to become a major Jetstar Japan investor.
"At the end of the day, yes, we may take some customers who would have flown JAL and fly on Jetstar (instead), but as a whole, we believe that we will stimulate air travel demand going forward."
Jetstar's launch is part of a bid to open up a market that has traditionally suffered from high prices because of the dominance of Japan's two major carriers, JAL and All Nippon Airways.
JAL went bankrupt in January 2010 with debts totalling 2.32 trillion yen ($29 billion), but it continued flying during an overhaul that included massive cuts to jobs and routes.
It exited bankruptcy protection last year and logged an annual net profit of $2.3 billion in the fiscal year to March 2012.
JAL, whose shares were delisted in February 2010, is expected to file an application on Wednesday to float its shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by September, according to Japanese media.
Japan's major airlines were behind global rivals in terms of entry into the low-cost sector, but ANA last year set up budget airline Peach Aviation with a Hong Kong investment fund.
ANA has also tied up with Malaysia's AirAsia to launch AirAsia Japan.
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