Jetstar all clear for Japan takeoff

JAPAN'S Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport yesterday granted Jetstar Japan its air operator's certificate, which will allow Jetstar to fly on domestic Japanese routes.

It means Japanese regulators have been satisfied with the way the budget carrier plans to operate, from ground services, engineering and safety requirements, clearing the way for a July 3 takeoff.

"We're on track to start flying five months ahead of schedule," said Jetstar Japan chief executive Miyuki Suzuki. It also beats rival AirAsia, setting up its discount airline in Japan, by a month.

Jetstar Japan will start with a fleet of three new Airbus A320 planes, each accommodating 180 passengers, with plans to grow to 24 aircraft in the first few years. Tickets will go on sale within weeks, it says, while proving flights will be held next month.

The airline is a joint venture between Qantas, Japan Airlines, Mitsubishi Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation, and will fly between Tokyo, Okinawa, Osaka, Sapporo and Fukuoka.

Next year, Jetstar Japan plans to offer short-haul international flights from Japan to neighbouring countries, subject to regulators' approvals.

The Japan go-ahead adds to the Jetstar franchises in Australia (which has flown to Japan for the past five years), New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. Jetstar Hong Kong, announced recently, is awaiting regulators' approvals. Jetstar Group chief executive Bruce Buchanan said five years of flying long-haul to Japan gave the venture a head start in its quest to operate domestically in Japan.