Japan has three new budget airlines in 2012.
Peach Aviation is part-owned by ANA, from its base in Osaka (KIX, a great airport code) it is already flying to Sapporo, Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Kagoshima. Seoul (Incheon) service starts May 8, Hong Kong starts July 1, Taipei (Taoyuan) starts September 30 and Okinawa (Naha) is TBD. Doesn’t Peach Aviation sound better than Peach Airways or Airlines?
Air Asia Japan is also part-owned by ANA, will be based at Tokyo-Narita and serve Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Okinawa in August, with Busan and Seoul (Incheon) to follow in October. Air Asia X has existing service to Tokyo Haneda, not Tokyo Narita, so that will be interesting for unaware connecting passengers. Air Asia X also serves Osaka.
The Economist has a pessimistic outlook on the trio, too many corporate master’s with other business they may be afraid to cannibalize.
With all this overlap travelers may benefit as these airlines and established competitors fight it out. Too bad for visitors to Toyko that none is using convenient Haneda.
Travelers should weigh flight options against Japan’s exquisite rail network, which is quite affordable for overseas visitors when utilizing rail passes. Sapporo is a long way by train from Tokyo, though, and even the shinkansen have not yet found a way to serve Okinawa.