AirAsia Closes Japanese Subsidiary With Immediate Effect

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AirAsia Group’s subsidiary airline, AirAsia Japan, is immediately shutting down its operations. The news surfaced on Monday in a legal filing. As early as Friday, there were rumors and suspicions that the Japanese arm of the budget airline group would cease operations; this has now been confirmed. Due to the airline’s October flight suspensions, no current flights were immediately affected.

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AirAsia Japan operated an all-Airbus A320-family fleet. Photo: ltdccba via Wikimedia Commons 

“Despite our unrelenting efforts to sustain operations through successive and wide-ranging cost reduction initiatives, we have concluded that it would be an extremely challenging feat for us to continue operating without any visibility and certainty of a post-pandemic recovery path.” -Jun Aida, Representative Director and COO of AirAsia Japan

Decision made by AirAsia Japan’s board of directors

According to Reuters, the airline said it was notified that the AirAsia Japan (AAJ) board of directors made the decision to cease operations with immediate effect. Reuters reports that the Malaysia-based airline group has made the following statement:

“We respect and have agreed to the decision made by AAJ as this would reduce the cash burn of AAJ and the Company amid the highly challenging operating conditions in Japan which have been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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AirAsia Japan is part of the larger AirAsia group, including subsidiaries in India, Thailand, the Philippines, and more. Photo: Laurent Errera via Wikimedia Commons

Airline crippled by international flight restrictions

According to Malaysian publication The Star, CEO of the AirAsia Group, Tony Fernandes, said on Friday that the airline group’s aircraft are unable to fly to Japan due to the international border shutdown. Because of AirAsia Japan’s relatively small fleet and presence on the market, it was shutting down operations. Ceasing flights was high on the list of possibilities and courses of action being evaluated by the airline’s board.

Japan has imposed stringent international travel restrictions for foreigners, which have mostly been in place since March 2020. Despite this, AirAsia Japan was running limited operations in recent months domestically – taking travelers between Chubu in central Japan to Sapporo, Sendai, and Fukuoka.

However, NikkeiAsia reported on September 17th that these domestic services would be suspended from October 1st to October 24th. The reason cited was lower-than-expected demand caused by COVID-19.

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“I would like to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation to our loyal guests and other stakeholders who have supported us all along. This painful decision to cease operations was decided neither in haste nor taken lightly. It was agreed upon after conducting a thorough business review.” -Jun Aida, Representative Director and COO of AirAsia Japan

Aida continues by saying that the steps to this decision have been made in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations including the Japan Civil Aeronautics Act. The carrier has canceled all flights and all affected guests will be contacted via email with further information within the next seven days.

What does AirAsia Japan’s fleet of aircraft look like?

According to Planespotters.net, AirAsia Japan has its base of operations at Tokyo Narita International Airport. Other sources conflict with this, saying that its main hub is at Chubu Centrair International Airport.

While the AirAsia group’s collective fleet of Airbus aircraft is extensive, the Japanese wing only has four aircraft. Three of these are Airbus A320-200s, otherwise known as A320ceos, while the fourth is listed as an A320neo – last spotted in Toulouse in February of 2020. The airline may not have been able to actually take delivery of this completed aircraft as websites have this particular aircraft still listed as being ‘on order.’

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AirAsia Japan has its home base at the budget terminal of Tokyo Narita International Airport. Photo: Alec Wilson via Wikimedia Commons 

Thankfully, due to the mid-September decision to suspend operations for most of October, no passengers will be immediately affected while traveling.

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