ANA's joint venture with AirAsia 'most efficient option'

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Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) says that its joint venture with AirAsia offers the "most efficient" option for the start-up of a low-cost airline based in Tokyo's Narita International Airport.

AirAsia Japan, which aims to begin operations in August 2012, will be 51% owned by ANA. It will be the first low-cost carrier to be based in Narita, the airlines said in a statement.

Recent developments such as open skies agreements and increased competition from road and rail-based travel have led to the "rapid transformation" of the Japanese airline market, said ANA.

In addition, Narita aims to increase its capacity with a new terminal that should attract low-cost carriers and foreign airlines, added the Star Alliance carrier.

"ANA concluded that partnering with an existing low-cost carrier is the most efficient and strategically advantageous option," said the airline.

AirAsia Japan leverages on AirAsia's successful business model and brings together the complementary strengths of the two companies, it added.

"We believe that AirAsia Japan will make air travel more accessible and provide a convenient and efficient travel option for a wide range of people," said Shinichiro Ito, president and CEO of ANA.

AirAsia will own 33% voting shares in the joint venture and 16% non-voting shares through its wholly owned subsidiary AA International. AirAsia has been seeking a business partner with strong Japanese market influence to expand its network for some time, said the Malaysian carrier.

"AirAsia Japan will be a success as the Japanese market possesses the necessary ingredients for growth, such as the population's strong propensity to travel, its high per capita income, coupled with deep and significant internet penetration," said AirAsia.

The joint venture helps the company to penetrate Japan's "highly lucrative domestic travel market", it added.

"This new joint venture is an important milestone in AirAsia's growth as ANA is the very first airline partner to form a joint venture with AirAsia," said Tony Fernandes, group CEO of AirAsia.

AirAsia has announced plans to set up joint ventures in the Philippines and Vietnam, where services are expected to begin at the end of the year.