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ANA New Interactive Web Site

Mar 19 (Tue ), 2013

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has launched "Let's Do Japan" www.letsdojapan.com, a site that lets visitors create their own Japanese manga personality and learn helpful tips about Japanese culture and trends.   In this first-ever campaign by ANA targeting U.S. consumers, visitors to the site create their own characters through Manganizer, which uses the popular Japanese manga style of comics and features five distinct Japanophile travelers that embody the characteristics of ANA and Japan. Visitors choose to be either Executive, Fashionista, Gourmand, Designer or Aficionado to create their original manga hero and manga stories with their own pictures.   Manganizer uses face recognition technology to render manga images of the user, based on information shared with the app through Facebook Connect or by uploading their image. The rendered manga can then be tweaked using the editor, and downloaded or shared via Facebook and Twitter. By using the Facebook Connect function, users can also generate entire manga stories that incorporate themselves as well as their Facebook friends into the plot.   Another feature of the site is 360° Japan, where visitors explore three scenes: a restaurant, design architecture lounge and Akiba café. Embedded within the scenes are interactive connections, allowing users to click onto images to learn more about Japanese cultures, traditions and trends. Visitors can learn more about sensu hand-held fans or what omelet rice drawing involves.   "Visitors to our innovative site can immerse themselves in their own story through Manganizer or discover helpful tips and interesting facts about Japan and Japanese culture through 360° Japan," explains ANA spokesperson, Nao Gunji. "We believe our site offers its visitors a fun, high-tech glimpse into what to expect when they visit Japan for the first time or the tenth. And, who wouldn't want to be the hero of their own manga-style story?"  

Asian tourism to Japan to increase by 41 percent

Mar 12 (Tue ), 2013

Study: Asian tourism to Japan to increase by 41 percent   The number of tourists visiting Japan from other Asian countries by 2017 is forecast to be 41 percent higher than last year’s total, according to a study by the Development Bank of Japan.   The number of Asian travelers to Japan is projected to reach 9 million in 2017, up from an estimated 6.4 million in 2012, with Chinese, South Korean, Taiwanese and Indonesian visitor numbers expected to swell significantly, the recent study by the government-backed DBJ showed.   And even these figures could be exceeded if the government launches strategic tourism campaigns in emerging economies to promote visits to Japan and introduces measures to better accommodate foreign travelers at destinations nationwide, the study said.   Tourists from South Korea are expected to surge 39 percent to 2.8 million in 2017, while those from China will soar 53 percent to 2.2 million and Taiwanese visitors will jump 36 percent to 2.0 million, according to the study’s forecasts.   Among rapidly emerging Asian nations, around 190,000 travelers from Indonesia are expected to visit Japan in the target year — an 86 percent spike compared with 2012 levels and the sharpest increase among the countries surveyed by the study.   The projections will cheer the government, which is targeting an annual total of 25 million foreign visitors by 2020. The calculations were based on a global economic forecast issued by the International Monetary Fund and foreign exchange rates as of early February.   Preliminary estimates by the Japan National Tourism Organization indicate that in 2012, the total number of foreign visitors to Japan, including from Asian countries, climbed to 8.37 million. The figure plummeted to 6.22 million in 2011 due to the natural and nuclear disasters that March, a nearly 30 percent year-on-year plunge from the 8.61 million foreign travelers seen in 2010.   Source: eTurbo News

AirAsia X Offers Passengers Red Carpet Service

Feb 27 (Wed ), 2013

AirAsia X has expanded its ancillary offerings to include a Red Carpet service, a special service for those seeking for a more personalised check in experience at the Kuala Lumpur Low Cost Carrier Terminal.   The Red Carpet service was first launched back in March 2012 by AirAsia, and now its long-haul arm is collaborating with AirAsia to extend this service to AAX guests departing Kuala Lumpur to its long-haul destinations.   The Red Carpet Service includes a dedicated check-in counter, priority baggage tagging and loading, access to the Plaza Premium lounge at LCCT, fast track immigration, security clearance and priority boarding with buggy service to the bay (subject to aircraft parking bay distance) which includes priority baggage delivery upon arrival.   Guest can either pre-book the service online for MYR100 or request the service at the airport for a walk-in rate of MYR125. The Red Carpet counter is located at counter S25 and S26.   In the event of flight cancellation or delay, guests will be entitled to a full refund or they may transfer the Red Carpet Service to their next available flight.   AirAsia X’s CEO, Azran Osman-Rani said, “AirAsia X is delighted to extend the Red Carpet service to our guests. Akin to a VIP service, guests may now opt for the Red Carpet service and whizz through the crowd and buggy to the plane and will be accorded a speedier process from check-in to boarding the plane.”   AirAsia X features Premium Flatbed seats, which have standard business class specifications of 20” width, 60” pitch and stretch out to 77” in full recline position.   The Premium flatbeds feature universal power sockets, adjustable headrests and built-in personal utilities such as tray table, drink holder, reading light and privacy screen. Premium seat guests also enjoy premium complimentary products and services including Pick A Seat, Priority Check-in, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage, 25kg Baggage Allowance, Complimentary Meal and Pillow & Duvet.   On top of that, AirAsia X recently introduced the “Quiet Zone” cabin on all its long-haul flights across China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia and Nepal. The new service enhancement is exclusively for guests who are above age 12. The “Quiet Zone” cabin features a new ambiance with soft lighting, offering a more relaxing cabin atmosphere.

JAL and Jetstar Japan Start Codeshare and Mileage Program Tie-up

Feb 27 (Wed ), 2013

Raising the value of JAL’s network with supplementary connections to and from its international flights Japan Airlines (JAL) announced today that it will start codeshare and mileage program partnership with Jetstar Japan (flight code: GK) - a joint-investment with the Qantas Group, Mitsubishi Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation. Reservations, sales and JAL mileage redemption of flights operated by Jetstar Japan will begin from February 27, 2013, for departures from March 6, 2013.   JAL, which started codesharing with Jetstar in 2007 on routes between Japan and Australia, will now be codesharing*1 with Jetstar Japan on all its domestic flights for customers connecting to and from JAL's international services at Tokyo (Narita) and Osaka (Kansai) and Nagoya(Chube). Customers will be able to create a single itinerary with international and domestic flights with the "JL" code, operated respectively by JAL and Jetstar Japan. This provides a network with a wider choice of flights and timings, as well as faster transfers for customers.   Furthermore, with this latest development, JAL Mileage Bank (JMB) members can soon utilize their accrued mileage to redeem tickets on Jetstar Japan flights. Jetstar Japan will be the 17th airline that JAL has similar arrangements with and through expanding such cooperation with various airlines, JAL seeks to make the JMB mileage program more attractive and easy for customers to use. For more details on eligible routes and required mileage for redemption, visit http://www.jal.co.jp/en/inter/info/gk/

Hawaiian Airlines to Launch Sendai Flights

Feb 19 (Tue ), 2013

 Hawaiian Airlines will add its fifth Japan gateway in June with the launch of three times a week flights to Sendai, Japan.    The new flights - starting 25 June, pending Japan government approval - will be the first scheduled service between Sendai and Hawaii since another carrier left the market in 2004, and among the first new services to be introduced at Sendai Airport since it was closed for more than a month in 2011 due to damage caused by the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami.   "We are delighted to be bringing the aloha of our island home to a region being rebuilt after massive devastation two years ago," said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's president and chief executive officer. "Hawaii is a place for relaxation, healing and rejuvenation, and we look forward to making visitors from Tohoku feel as though they are in Hawai'i from the moment they board our flights."   Hawaiian's new Sendai service will connect with and complement its existing service to Sapporo, operating nonstop from Honolulu to Sendai, with one-stop service returning to Honolulu via Sapporo.   "We have been interested in providing service to Honolulu from Sendai for some time. The city's airport draws travelers from throughout the Tohoku region, and its peak travel periods complement those of Sapporo to the north. Our new service will take advantage of these fluctuations by offering each market the majority of available seats when local demand for travel to Hawai'i is highest. This allows us to make the most efficient use of our fleet," Dunkerley said.   Hawaiian's Flight HA 441 will depart Honolulu International Airport on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 12:15, cross the international dateline, and arrive at Sendai Airport at 16:00 the following day.   The return Flight HA 442 will then continue to Sapporo's New Chitose Airport at 17:55 on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, arriving at New Chitose at 19:10 before departing to Honolulu at 21:10, crossing the international dateline, and arriving in Honolulu at 09:50 the same day.   Hawaiian will operate the Honolulu-Sendai-Sapporo flights using its fleet of roomy wide-body, twin-aisle Boeing 767-300ER aircraft that seat up to 264 passengers.

Japan Airlines and S7 Airlines Codeshare

Jan 29 (Tue ), 2013

Japan Airlines and S7 Airlines, both members of the oneworld airline alliance, have entered a codeshare agreement with each other for the first time and will commence codeshare flights from tomorrow, 30 January 2013.   JAL operates a nonstop service three times a week between Tokyo (Narita) and Moscow (Domodedovo).    In addition to that, JAL is expanding its network with the addition of the two Russian cities of Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, with this new codeshare arrangement placing the "JL" flight marker on direct flights operated by S7 between Tokyo (Narita) and the two cities.   S7 will also begin marketing several JAL-operated flights between Narita and key domestic points in Japan from 15 February 2013.   Reservations and ticket sales for all the above mentioned codeshare flights will start today, 29 January 2013.   S7 is one of Russia's major airlines. With its main hub in Moscow (Domodedovo) and a modern fleet of Airbus A320, A319, Boeing 737-800 and 737-400 aircraft, S7 operates regular services to Europe, the Middle East and Asia, reaching over 80 cities in 20 countries, including 45 regions within its home country.

AirAsia plans to dominate Asia Region

Jan 29 (Tue ), 2013

AirAsia Berhad has finalised its strategic 5-year review, as it sets a course to push its dominance in the Asian region.   Group CEO Tan Sri Dr. Tony Fernandes said, “In 10 years, AirAsia Group grew from a 2-aircraft fleet to now the largest LCC in Asia with 118 aircraft and AirAsia is one of the most profitable airlines in Asia. Malaysia has been the launch pad for AirAsia in terms of brand and has stamped its footprint in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Japan.”   He added “Despite being the dominant carrier in terms of market share and profitability in Malaysia, we have to ensure we maintain the discipline in maximizing our revenues, capital, human resource, increasing passengers carried as well as keeping cost down. As Malaysia now becomes a cash machine, the management turns it focus to its other core markets in Thailand and Indonesia where we foresee these entities generating similar profits to Malaysia in the future. We have also kept to our promise by delivering our first listing in Thailand and soon Indonesia this year as this both companies becomes financially dependent on their own balance sheet.”   “The other focus is to develop our new entities in Philippines and Japan whereby in terms of LCC penetration, it is still at its infancy and there is utmost growth potential. We have put in a strong management team who shares our vision and strategy which will enable them to achieve similar dominance like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia,” he said.   In terms of new ventures, AirAsia is not shy from exploring new opportunities in new countries. Based on its strategic review, the management believes that Singapore is best served as a virtual hub as most of the routes served are from established hubs in the AirAsia network and the company believes there is an excess of capacity already out of Singapore. Routes less than three hours allow better revenue returns due to more sectors flown and AirAsia remains focused on that strategy hence the termination of longer routes like Kuala Lumpur to Colombo recently. Routes originating out of Singapore to larger population countries like China and India tend to be more than 5 hours hence AirAsia’s decision not to proceed with any venture there in the foreseeable future. Whilst other ASEAN and Asian countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, Myanmar and Korea seem attractive, the management of AirAsia has confirmed it will focus on the group’s existing operations that offer bigger domestic alternatives, with larger populations.   Tony also said, “In terms of non-ASEAN countries, India is an exciting market and I have been overwhelmed with the developments of the country recently in terms of promoting air travel. We will continue to explore opportunities there but I believe this market offers the most growth potential in terms of travel.”   AirAsia has placed an order of 475 aircraft and 114 have been delivered. 87% of the aircraft is on balance sheet which the highest owned ratio for any airline in Asia. Despite high ownership ratio, AirAsia balance remain solid with a net gearing of 1.03 times and a cash balance of just over RM2 billion.   Tony further added, “The ASEAN including China and India backyard has over 3.2 billion population which is 8 times bigger than Europe. We are in an exciting market to be in to build our brand as penetration of low cost carrier is very low. We see the potential of these markets hence why I am confident our huge aircraft orders will easily meet our capacity needs in the future. Larger passenger demand from these markets will translate to not just passenger revenues but also ancillary revenues. We are optimistic on our ancillary offerings and our new initiatives to be launched soon and will push up current ancillary passenger spent of RM41.”   “We keep focused and disciplined in terms of cost and our business model which is imbedded in the mindset of our organisation. We have the lowest cost base compared to other airlines in the world and it would be hard for others to replicate that even new competitors. We will announce our full year results in February and fourth quarter was very strong in terms of performance. I believe 2013 will be stronger in terms of our load factors and yields because we have the ability in terms scale and cost to buffer any competitive pressures. I am very excited for what we have strategically planned for the next 5 years for AirAsia Group and will continue to beat the odds every year,” Tony concluded.

Kirimaya Launches Ballooning Adventure Promotion

Jan 09 (Wed ), 2013

Kirimaya Launches Ballooning Adventure Promotion   Set in 800 acres of lush greenery bordering a UNESCO world heritage rainforest and majestic mountains, is Kirimaya – a 64-room resort that combines natural beauty with the chic elegance of contemporary living.   Khao Yai is just a two hour drive north east of Bangkok, and yet enjoys invigorating fresh cool, crisp mountain air all year round.   This magical setting is perfect for an early morning hot air balloon flight – floating above the beautiful scenic area dotted with wineries.    Tea, Coffee and juices will be served prior to the fight and on landing, guests will be able to enjoy a champagne breakfast complete with a live jazz band. Each couple will also be presented with a certificate souvenir of their balloon flight from the pilot.   The Kirimaya Ballooning Adventure is available from 15 January to 28 February 2013 and is priced at THB 15,500 nett per person (US$ 517 nett per person).   Package rates inclusive of accommodation, breakfast and complimentary Wi-Fi are also available starting from THB 26,500 nett for Plantation View (US$ 833 nett) per night.   Kirimaya offers a choice of accommodation including four Tented Villas (180 square meters) with indoor private spa pool and outdoor sundeck; as well as a variety of rooms and suites with private terraces, spacious finely appointed interiors and majestic views of the Khao Yai National Park mountain range.   Pool Villas are available at neighboring Muthi Maya.

Bangkok Airways to Expand Services

Jan 09 (Wed ), 2013

Bangkok Airways to Expand Services   Bangkok Airways is expanding its route network. The new flights includes Bangkok-Krabi (twice daily starting 31 March) and Bangkok-Mandalay (4 weekly flights starting 16 September). Both destinations are already open for booking.   Additional services will be in place for Bangkok-Trat (3 daily flight) and Bangkok-Male (5 weekly flights starting 31 March).   Moreover, all flights served between Bangkok-Phnom Penh will now be operated by Airbus A319 and additional frequencies will be added to flights between Samui-Phuket during summer.   The airline recently launched a direct service from Bangkok to Vientiane – Laos, and an additional service between Hong Kong – Koh Samui. Flights to Koh Samui, Siem Reap and Luang Prabang will be seasonally adjusted. All recently introduced flights and services to other destinations will be maintained as during this timetable period.   Currently, Bangkok Airways serves eight domestic routes: Chiang Mai, Lampang, Sukhothai, Pattaya (U-Tapao), Trat, Phuket, Samui and Krabi and eleven international routes: Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Yangon, Maldives, Dhaka and Mumbai.

JAL to Serve Miyazaki Beef in International First Class

Jan 09 (Wed ), 2013

 JAL to Serve Miyazaki Beef in International First Class   Japan Airlines is to introduce award-winning Miyazaki beef to its inflight meals for First Class passengers on international routes from Tokyo (Narita) to Europe and North America from today (9 January) until 31 March 2013, to commemorate the launch of JAL Sky Suite 777 - the airline's latest inflight products and services.   Produced in Miyazaki Prefecture situated in the southern islands of Kyushu, Japan, Miyazaki beef is rated over level A-4 by the Japan Meat Grading Association for its outstanding quality of meat. It won the topmost accolades in five of nine categories in a nationwide wagyu (Japanese beef) quality contest that is held every five years, for two consecutive contests (2007 and 2012), and is recognized as the most superior beef in Japan and a well-known prime label overseas.   Between today and 28 February 2013, JAL will serve the high grade beef in First Class as a main western meal selection.  Customers will be able to enjoy the Miyazaki beef fillet "alla Rossini", matched with fragrantly seared foie gras and apple - a menu specially crafted by Seiji Yamamoto, Michelin 3-star chef and owner of distinguished Japanese restaurant Ryugin.   There will be a regular change of menu from 1 March 2013 and JAL will continue to utilize Miyazaki beef in the new line-up until 31 March 2013.