AirAsia Japan ceased operations yesterday, following the decision from its parent company, AirAsia Group, to shut it down due to the impact on air traffic created by the coronavirus. The airline was the smallest subsidiary of the AirAsia airline group (the largest only low-cost airline group in Asia), which also operates in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and the Philippines. It saw its operations being slowly dwindled down since the beginning of the pandemic, which, as well as an air traffic reduction, also saw travel restrictions make it virtually impossible for airlines to survive without a cascade of loans.
AirAsia Japan began operations in 2011 from a joint venture between All Nippon Airways (ANA, the largest airline in Japan) and the AirAsia group. This came just after the creation of Peach Aviation (another Japanese LCC) by ANA. AirAsia Japan was to commence flights the forthcoming year from Narita International Airport in Tokyo. 2 years later, following a decision made by the AirAsia group, the joint venture was terminated and AirAsia Japan became a wholly-owned subsidiary of ANA. The airline continued operations until October 2013 under its current name, and then was renamed Vanilla Air (which merged with Peach in October 2019). This fully ended all links between the airline and the AirAsia Group. But, in July 2014, the airline was relaunched by the AirAsia Group under its original name, AirAsia Japan, with a new base at Chubu Centrair International Airport in Nagoya. 51% of the airline was given to Japanese companies Rakuten, Alpen, Noevir Holdings and Octave Japan and AirAsia took the remaining 49%. The airline was supposed to commence operations in summer 2015 with 2 Airbus A320-200s and to gain another 2 by winter of the same year. Several delays occurred, despite AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes expressing his wish to push operations in Northern Asia as the Southeastern market was getting packed, forcing the airline to commence operations in late 2017. In August 2019, it began flights to Taipei (the capital of Taiwan) and Sendai (Japan). A new service from Nagoya Centrair to Fukuoka was intended to launch in January this year, but then the coronavirus brusquely obstructed its creation. AirAsia Japan suspended operations in March until the 1st of August due to the coronavirus. On the 30th of September, it was unofficially decided that the airline would cease operations on the 5th of October. The formal announcement of the closure of AirAsia Japan was announced yesterday.
At the time of its demise, AirAsia Japan operated a fleet of 3 Airbus A320-200s and had an order for 1 Airbus A320neo. Its 3 Airbus A320s are currently stored at Nagoya Centrair. The aviation industry is suffering more now than before… airlines are more susceptible to cease opeartions in autumn and winter than in the rest of the year, as I predicted. 6th of October 2020.