Bullet v Budget – Can Japan’s New Low-Cost Airlines Beat Its Famed ‘Bullet Trains’: The Economist

Posted: April 30, 2012 in Airlines, Asia, Aviation & Airports (General News), Japan
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[The Economist] THE world’s busiest train route, and one of the busiest air routes, is between Tokyo and Osaka, Japan’s two biggest metropolitan areas. On that corridor, the shinkansen, as Japan’s bullet trains are known, were born in 1964. They whizz 120,000 passengers a day smoothly from one place to another, on trains that leave every ten minutes.

Bullet Trains whizz 120,000 passengers a day smoothly from one place to another, on trains that leave every ten minutes

Bullet Trains whizz 120,000 passengers a day smoothly from one place to another, on trains that leave every ten minutes

Although humans, not robots, are at the controls, the average delay is a miraculous 36 seconds. To take all those passengers by air would require 667 aircraft, each with 180 seats, or five times Japan’s fleet of Boeing 737s, estimates Macquarie, an investment bank.

Undeterred, between March and August three low-cost airlines will have started operations in Japan. It would be a miracle if they could help hammer down train and plane fares in Japan, which are excruciating. For example, a one-way shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Osaka costs ¥14,000 ($170), and there are no discounts for return fares or for booking early. But compared with Europe and other parts of Asia, where budget airlines have quickly gained market share, in Japan the low-cost model is expected to take time to take off.

There are three main reasons for that, analysts say. First, all three newcomers have established parents. Peach, which started flying in March, and Air Asia Japan, which starts in August, are part-owned by ANA, one of Japan’s two main carriers. Jetstar Japan, which launches operations in July, is one-third owned by Japan Airlines (JAL). Such ties have usually hobbled low-cost airlines elsewhere: incumbents hate to cannibalise their…..

Read the full story at The Economist….


Apr 28th 2012 | TOKYO | from the print edition


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Comments
  1. As the shinkansen stations are usually located in or close to the thick of hubbub, and public transit options become dire as midnight (or earlier) rolls in, I’d probably only book a flight that didn’t depart too early or too late. Also, I can’t ever turn away an “ekiben…”

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