Japan's first budget carrier named 'Peach'

TOKYO, May 24, 2011 (AFP) - Japan's first budget carrier said Tuesday it would operate under the name Peach, and pledged to deliver the sophistication of "Cool Japan."

A&F Aviation, set up by All Nippon Airways (ANA) with Hong Kong and Japanese investment funds in February, changed its corporate name to "Peach Aviation" to symbolise longevity, energy and happiness -- as peaches do in Japan, it said.

"The name Peach was chosen to reflect our mission of becoming a completely new type of airline that links destinations in Japan and Japan with Asia," Peach Aviation chief executive Shinichi Inoue said in a statement.

"Our airline will also reflect the smart sophistication that has come to represent the words 'Cool Japan'," he said.

Cabin crew will wear casual-look uniforms comprising plain shirts and trousers. The company also unveiled its aircraft design, showing an Airbus 320 in white, pink and fuchsia.

Anticipating booming Asian travel demand, the company was set up to be Japan's main low-cost carrier operating both international and domestic routes.

It aims to begin domestic services out of Kansai International Airport in the western Japanese city of Osaka in March 2012.

Service between Kansai and Incheon airport in Seoul will commence no later than May 2012, the airline said.

The new company is 66.7 percent owned by Japanese investors, with ANA holding a 33.4 percent stake. Hong Kong-based private equity firm First Eastern Investment holds the remaining 33.3 percent stake, the maximum foreign ownership currently allowed in Japan.

Japan's air travel market is known for its high fares.

Cheaper domestic carriers such as Skymark and Air Do have been unable to offer the kind of heavily discounted fares associated with budget airlines in the United States and Europe due to higher operating costs.

ANA has said that the new carrier would offer tickets at half current fare levels.

The company has said it would cut costs by requiring customers to pay for all in-flight services and operate only with e-tickets.

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