All Nippon to add new London-Tokyo Haneda flights

Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) has announced plans for a new service between London and Tokyo Haneda Airport, amid rising demand for the route, Air Market said in an online report.

The new service, effective from March 30, 2014, also follows the news from the Japan National Tourism Organisation that the country is likely to hit the ten million visitor mark by the end of 2013.

Haneda Airport is increasingly seen as a hub, due to its accessibility for central Tokyo (13 minutes by Monorail) and the range of domestic flights, enabling easy access to popular Japanese destinations such as Hiroshima, Matsuyama and Okayama. The expansion will make ANA the biggest airline at Haneda Airport, offering the most international flights to and from this airport.

ANA adopts a dual-airport strategy in the Tokyo area, capitalising on the strengths of Haneda and Narita Airport. Routes and schedules for destinations between the two airports are claimed to be carefully planned to complement one another, offering passengers more choice and convenience, and meeting the growing demand for international travel.

Osamu Shinobe, ANA president, said, ‘With the new slots being added to Haneda Airport, we are seeking to utilise the strengths of both Haneda and Narita airports to offer an increased level of convenience for domestic and international routes, gaining new international customers travelling between Japan, North America, Europe and Asia.

‘Also in-line with the Haneda expansion, ANA is planning to offer an enhanced lounge and services, delivering a five-star airline experience both in the air and on the ground, allowing customers to experience Japan Quality at all times,’ he added.

ANA is planning to launch a new UK marketing campaign in late-December to support the expansion. ANA’s ‘By Design’ campaign focuses on the beauty of Japanese culture and its tradition of exceptional service, as part of efforts to attract more business travellers, as well as others to the country.

Japanese Airline achieves two World Airline awards

apanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) has left the Paris Airshow with two SKYTRAX World Airline awards.

The airline received the awards for World’s Best Airport Services and Best Cabin Cleanliness following what is claimed to be the world’s largest annual airline passenger satisfaction survey, which is carried out by research organisation, SKYTRAX.

The survey covered 200 airlines and questioned travellers from over 160 countries on 38 frontline key performance indicators for the airline industry. These included the arrangements for check-in, boarding, on-board seat comfort, cabin cleanliness, food, beverages, in-flight entertainment and staff service.

ANA has added these latest awards to the 5-star rating that it was granted by SKYTRAX in March this year, making it one of only seven airlines to have received the distinction; the Airline of the Year award that it received at the Air Transport World awards; and the Network – Global Airlines and Lowest Global Cancellations awards that it received from FlightStats.

Toshitaka Watanabe, SVP of customer satisfaction, products and service at ANA commented on the airline’s achievements, saying, ‘This five-star status, along with our recent awards, is a testament to the effort and innovation put into our service and our commitment to delivering the highest quality customer experience. Over the last two years, ANA has focused on providing a true international service in order to succeed in future global competition, and to achieve our goal of becoming Asia’s number one airline, setting standards worldwide.’

Chairman of SKYTRAX, Edward Plaisted added: ‘We congratulate ANA for this fantastic double-success, in a year that also sees it receive the top global quality rating as a five star airline. The award for providing the World’s Best Airport Services is testament not only to the high standards of ANA airport staff service, but reflects their strong levels of service consistency that users particularly commented on.

‘The award for Best Aircraft Cabin Cleanliness is a new category for 2013, and was introduced to reflect the importance of cabin cleanliness in the overall customer travel experience. ANA was particularly commended for the standard of cabin cleanliness and cabin presentation, together with a consistent quality of cabin washroom cleanliness.’

Emirates Announces New Service to Tokyo

UAE-based airline company, Emirates, has increased its commitment to Japan with the introduction of a new service between Dubai and Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).

The daily, non-stop flights will be commencing from June 3, 2013. Haneda Airport is the 131st destination served by the airline, and a three-class Boeing 777-200LR will operate the service

Thierry Antinori, Emirates executive vice president for passenger sales worldwide, said, ‘As Emirates’ third gateway in Japan, the Dubai to Haneda route will help to build on the vibrant relationship between the United Arab Emirates and Japan, in terms of trade and increasing the opportunities for business and tourism.

Emirates has been operating to Japan since 2002 when we introduced non-stop flights to Osaka; our commitment continued when we launched flights to Narita International Airport in 2010.

We are confident that the demand in terms of both passengers and cargo is strong enough to warrant Emirates operating non-stop, daily flights to both of Tokyo’s airports, offering our passengers more flexibility on the route to Dubai and onwards to over 70 destinations in the Indian Ocean, Middle East, Africa and Europe.’

The airline had previously announced another new service, this time to Poland, commencing from February 6, 2013. The airline is offering a daily service to Warsaw in Poland, from Dubai in the UAE, with a 237 seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

The airline is currently offering five flights daily for its passengers from London Heathrow Airport in the UK to Dubai, as well as two flights daily to Dubai from Glasgow Airport in Scotland. The airline also offers direct to Dubai flights from Birmingham, London Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle airports in the UK.

Japanese take to the sky with low-cost flights

The Japanese, who are known to have a penchant for luxury, are now welcoming cheap flights to their nation.

Three low-cost airlines have started operating in the country and are offering different flight options for customers who are yet to grasp the concept of low-cost airlines. AirAsia Japan, Peach Aviation and Jetstar Japan have started offering services, and it is expected that the move could change the lifestyles of citizens in the country. It is expected that the cheap flights will encourage more travel among the Japanese and break their habit of confining air travel to business trips. Luxury vacations to popular destinations are also expected to become more popular with the Japanese, owing to the availability of cheap flights.

Flight prices in the nation have dropped by more than half, and flying is likely to become a more casual means of travel in the country. The Japanese are expected to use the air routes more for weekend dining, meeting with friends and other casual trips, which has not previously been the case. Figures show that ticket prices have dropped by about half, to JPY16,000 ($200), to the south-western resort island of Okinawa, or JPY5,000 to Seoul. The cheap airlines are also expected to effect a change of attitude in the Japanese with regard to their life styles, as they could be prompted to move away from regular leisure activities and may even be encouraged to be less work oriented.

There are also hopes that the advent of cheap flights could revitalise Japan’s JPY3tn aviation market, the tremendous potential of which is believed to be mostly untapped. Cheap flights are prospering thanks to airports such as Tokyo’s, Haneda and Narita, which have opened up more landing slots. Observers feel that the cheap prices offered by airlines could compensate the critical Japanese for shortcomings compared to more luxurious flights.

Even with the shortcomings, carriers are reportedly doing well, and figures indicate that during the Obon holidays, domestic flights at Peach Aviation were 94 percent full. While AirAsia Japan reported 91 percent occupancy, and Jetstar Japan was 89 percent full.

British Airways and Japan Airlines Commence Joint Operations

British Airways, a UK based airline, has announced a partnership with Japan-based, Japan Airlines (JAL), for services between Europe and Japan.

The two airlines will be combining their operations and introducing a revenue sharing model to operate on the routes between the two regions.

The joint operations are effective from October 1, 2012, and are offering more connectivity between Europe and Japan, a wider range of flight options for passengers, and enhanced frequent flyer benefits. The joint operation will be venturing into more routes soon.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive officer of IAG, the parent company of British Airways, said, ‘We are proud to have served Japan for more than 60 years and are delighted to cement the relationship between British Airways and Japan Airlines. This new venture heralds a bigger and better service for our customers and the promise of greater co-operation in the future.’

Yoshiharu Ueki, the president of Japan Airlines, said, ‘We are looking forward to creating more customer benefits with this deeper level of cooperation with our long-time partner, British Airways. Together with the inauguration of JAL’s brand new seats and services between Narita and London from January next year, we hope to offer our customers an even greater travel experience than before.’

British Airways and JAL are both members of the oneworld alliance of world airlines, and have commenced their code-shared flights between Tokyo (Haneda and Narita airports) and London (Heathrow Airport). Customer options should be greatly increased by the options on offer, not only between the UK and Japan, but also with onward trips to European destinations.

Government of Sikkim to focus on Japanese tourists

Sikkim, a border state in India, has made plans to attract tourists from Japan.

The state, which borders China, has been a major destination for tourists seeking to understand its rich Buddhist culture. In fact, the interest in Buddhism-related tourism has been responsible for the state attracting a lot of tourists in the last two years, mostly from Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan. The government is now looking to focus on measures to attract visitors from Japan, and to promote its culture to similar-minded Japanese tourists.

Tourism secretary to the state, Ravindra Telang, said that the government was developing several projects that would be completed by 2015.

The government said that it was planning to give a boost to rural tourism and would therefore build more than 14,000 home stays in rural areas. In addition, locals in the state would be trained and encouraged to work more in the tourism sector. The state is also working flat out to complete the ‘Buddha Park’ project in South Sikkim’s Rabong area, which was originally due for completion last year. Similarly, two more pilgrimage centres, the Sleeping Buddha in North Sikkim, and Srijunga Statue in Hee-Bermiok, are expected to complete by 2015.

The area has many other attractions, including Buddhist shrines, monasteries and two hot springs, whose waters are said to be curative and restorative.

Official records show that Sikkim had 30,000 foreign visitors so far this year, the highest number in the last two years. Even though a recent earthquake had affected tourism badly, more than 24,350 foreign tourists have visited the state in the nine months since the earthquake.

 

Kyoto offers business travellers free Wi-Fi

The Japanese city of Kyoto is to offer business travellers free Wi-Fi access.

Business visitors will be able to access the Internet using free Wi-Fi services available throughout the city. The scheme, considered to be the largest municipal scheme in Japan, is being launched to satisfy the needs of business customers who use smart phones and tablet computers. The service is expected to be a boon to business travellers who visit the city to attend conferences and meetings, as it will allow visitors to have seamless Internet connectivity in the city and will do away with the need for them to search for connectivity.

The project, which has placed routers across Kyoto, will allow users to tap the services of 630 Wi-Fi hotspots. Visitors can enjoy up to three hours of Internet connection for free. The programme, now being implemented as a pilot project, could be expanded to more users if initial results are encouraging.

In a statement, the international marketing manager for the Kyoto Convention Bureau, James Kent, said, ‘The installation of Wi-Fi routers across Kyoto offers big benefits to business visitors. It will meet their growing demands for Internet access by providing them with excellent communication channels in the meeting and events environment. It means they can access online resources throughout Kyoto without gaps in connection, whilst being safe in the knowledge that the connection is secure. Free Wi-Fi access will only enhance delegate experience as on the move applications and the use of mobile devices is playing a more central role in meetings and conferences.’

Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo to Open in Tokyo in 2013

Fujita Kanko Inc, a hospitality company based in Tokyo, Japan, has announced the opening of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, due for January 1, 2013.

The hotel, earlier known as Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so, will be operated as Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, by the company itself. The company was earlier operating the separate meeting and conference facilities located in the same property complex, and has added the hotel to its portfolio.

Chinzanso means ‘villa on a mountain of camellias’, and is located inside a 16.3-acre Japanese botanical garden in the centre of Tokyo, within walking distance of Edogawabashi subway station, and close to the Mejiro JR station. The hotel is also located next to the Kanda, on the riverside, offering a location to observe the annual sakura (cherry blossom) season in Japan.

The property includes event spaces, such as 22 banquet and meeting rooms; and six restaurants, along with the hotel building itself.

Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo features 259 guest rooms and 36 meeting rooms. The hotel will be taking reservations for its grand opening from July 2, 2012, from its new website.

The company intends to invest around £60 million in next three years on property renovations and upgrades.

Kazumasa Suezawa, the company president and chief executive officer, said, ‘As a Japanese tourism pioneer, we now must step up and operate the entire property ourselves. We look forward to welcoming guests from around the world to this one-of-a-kind, exquisite luxury property, to experience the authentic culture its new name embodies.’

New RitzCarlton Okinawa Opens In Japan

The new Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa is the first luxury resort from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company to open in Japan.

The 97-room hotel opens on the island of Okinawa, which claims to offer holidaymakers luxurious golf courses, and clear, emerald green water.

Herve Humler, the company president and chief operations officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, said, ‘We are delighted to be able to bring our first true luxury resort hotel to Japan to complement our city hotels in Tokyo and Osaka. We have no doubt that Okinawa has the potential to be a resort island of true international appeal, attracting visitors from all over the world, whether they are visiting the island for business or pleasure. It really is a hidden gem and the opening of The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa helps to put this destination on the map for discerning luxury travellers.’

The hotel guestrooms and two suites all have balconies or terraces offering views of the East China Sea and the Kise Country Club. The Kise Country Club offers two championship golf courses, as well as a clubhouse offering a variety of cuisines. Other hotel features include a range of restaurants, a bar, and The Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA.

Victor Clavell, area vice president of Asia for Ritz-Carlton, said, ‘Our first luxury resort in Japan underlines our commitment to the Japanese market. The culture of friendship or ‘keion’ on this island blends seamlessly with The Ritz-Carlton promise to offer the finest personal service and facilities in a warm yet refined ambiance. We anticipate bringing more of the island’s incredible culture to the world.’

New DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Opens in Japan

Doubletree by Hilton Hotels, a brand from the US-based hospitality company, Hilton Worldwide, has opened its first branded hotel in Japan.

The new DoubleTree by Hilton Naha, in Okinawa, Japan, is the tenth Hilton Worldwide hotel in Japan. The 227-room hotel is minutes away from Naha Airport by monorail, and 500 metres from the local ferry terminal.

Rob Palleschi, the company global head, said, ‘DoubleTree by Hilton is delighted to continue the expansion of our Asia Pacific presence by introducing another rewarding hotel experience with the DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha. This new addition is our first in Japan and an extraordinary milestone for our brand’s global growth. It continues our growth strategy to provide outstanding hotel offerings in gateway countries and cities around the world.’

The 12-story DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha provides a 40 square-metre conference room, a salon, a laundry, The Riverside Restaurant and Cafe, and car parking services. The hotel is offering an introductory 15 percent discount on lunch buffets at The Riverside Restaurant and Cafe from May 24 to June 30, 2012.

Martin Rinck, the company president of the Asia Pacific region for Hilton Worldwide, said, ‘We are thrilled at the opening of the DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha. With close to 50 years of proud history in Japan, this latest opening is our tenth and further reinforces Hilton Worldwide’s commitment to growth in this wonderful country with our diverse and outstanding portfolio of hospitality brands that includes DoubleTree by Hilton. The DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha will contribute to making Okinawa a great place to visit for business and pleasure.’