AirAsia is set to capitalize on the growing demand for flights to Japan, with the country experiencing a tourism boom. In a response to increasing numbers of visitors to Tokyo, the Malaysian airline’s low-cost sister company, AirAsiaX is to start flying between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo Narita airport from November 2019. This route is commencing for the second time around, after a four year absence. Read on to find out what led to this decision, as well as the details regarding the resumed flight route.
A route revisited
The commencement of the route between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo Narita comes four years after AirAsia X suspended its flights to this airport. Originally opened in 2014, the Malaysian low-cost airline operated flights between KUL airport and Narita airport for less than a year, before calling a halt in August of 2015.
The airline endured a tough year in 2015, with significant losses reported as competition in the area increased. This competition came especially from Malaysian Airlines (MAS), and AirAsia X was forced to make some changes to its structures. Its ambitious capacity increases in 2014 could not be sustained and it necessitated the suspension of its flights to Narita airport, in a bid to counter increasing quarterly losses.
A new demand for flights to Tokyo, however, has breathed life into AirAsia X’s old route.
The carrier has, for almost a decade, operated flights to Tokyo Haneda airport. In a statement supplied to Simple Flying, AirAsia X said,
“AirAsia X Malaysia commenced operation between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo Haneda since 9 Dec 2010; as of 31 Dec 2018, we have carried over 1.5 million guests on this route alone.
“The recent Kuala Lumpur – Tokyo Narita launch has received great support, complementing the expansion of our existing services from Tokyo.”
The trigger for AirAsia X’s resumption of its KUL-NRT route was the increase in demand for flights to Tokyo – stemming from a tourism boom in Japan. Between 2012 and 2017, the country saw a growth of over 200% in tourist arrivals, and the trend is set to continue.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has set the goal for tourist arrivals in 2020 at 40 million. This comes in conjunction with two major international sporting events for 2019 (the rugby world cup) and 2020 (the summer Olympics), as well as the depreciation of the yen.
Overall, these factors have made Japan a major tourist destination. Demand amongst Malaysians for the route has increased as well, with more than 450,000 Malaysian travellers visiting Japan in 2018.
Route details or AirAsia X’s KUL-NRT flights
From the 20th of November, 2019, AirAsia X will resume its route between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo Narita airport. The airline’s fleet of Airbus 330s will be in use four times a week, flying direct on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays between the two cities. This will be in addition to its seven weekly flights between the Malaysian capital and Tokyo’s Haneda airport.
Flight frequency for this route may well be increased in the future. Airbus has confirmed that AirAsia X has ordered 12 Airbus A330neos to boost its medium-range capabilities and to operate alongside its A330 fleet of 24 aircraft. This may free up some of its A330’s for increased flights to Japan, positioning the airline well for Japan’s goal of reaching 60 million tourist visitors by 2030.
With direct return flights from under USD350, and under MYR1500, it is an attractive and affordable option for those flying from Malaysia.