ANA Holdings Inc. launched its third airline brand, AirJapan, on Friday, with the medium-haul low-cost carrier targeting the growing number of tourists to Japan from other Asian countries following the complete removal of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The parent of All Nippon Airways said AirJapan will operate six round-trip flights per week between Narita airport near Tokyo and Bangkok using Boeing 787-8 aircraft, with its first flight departing the airport Friday afternoon.
The aircraft in an all-economy layout offers the same legroom as full-service carrier flights, according to ANA Holdings.
"The seats are the brand's biggest appeal. We hope our customers enjoy comfortable flights to Bangkok," AirJapan President Hideki Mineguchi said at a ceremony at Narita airport.
The new airline is planning to commence flights between Narita and Incheon airport near Seoul on Feb. 22 and between the Japanese airport and Singapore on April 26.
One-way tickets to Bangkok start at 15,500 yen ($104), with tickets to Incheon and Singapore expected to start at around 8,000 yen and 17,500 yen, respectively.
In-flight meals, available for a fee, include popular Japanese dishes, such as sushi and "oyakodon" chicken and egg rice bowls.
Shinobu Yada, one of the passengers aboard the first flight, said she had been looking forward to taking AirJapan to Thailand.
"I'm excited about the prospect of traveling now that the pandemic is over," she said. "And it's really cheap and definitely worth flying."
Maitri Tiyaratanakul, a traveler from Thailand, said he was "satisfied" with the airfare. "It's cheaper than some (other) airlines," he said.
Japan has seen inbound tourism boom again after the removal last year of border control measures implemented during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The number of foreign visitors to Japan grew more than sixfold to 25.07 million in 2023 from a year earlier, with recent monthly data showing a return to levels seen before the coronavirus outbreak.