Jetstar chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka says the low-cost carrier’s Japanese business will one day be larger than the group’s Australian operations as demand for travel in the Asia grows.
Speaking at the CAPA Australia Pacific aviation summit in Sydney on Friday, Hrdlicka hit back at critics of Jetstar’s Asian ventures, saying Asia was the fastest-growing market in the world.
“If I had a dollar for every time I read or heard about the Asian distraction for Jetstar I would be retired now,” Hrdlicka said. “Every business in the Jetstar group is a stronger or more resilient airline as a consequence of group scale.”
Jetstar Japan was the third and most recent of the low-cost carrier’s Asian businesses, preceded by Jetstar Pacific in Vietnam and Jetstar Asia in Singapore. A proposed fourth airline, Jetstar Hong Kong, is still awaiting regulatory approval.
Jetstar Japan began flying in 2012 and currently has bases at Tokyo Narita and, just recently, Osaka Kansai with 18 A320 family aircraft. The carrier has carried about five million passengers and was the fourth largest airline in Japan, Hrdlicka said.
“In time we believe that the Jetstar Japan business will be as big or bigger than our business in Australia, given the size and scale of the Japanese market,” she said.
“Commercially it is delivering well ahead of our expectations and the fundamentals in Japan for it age and stage are better than the fundamentals were in Australia at the same point.”
By comparison, Jetstar Australia and New Zealand had a little over 70 aircraft.
After a period of little growth, Jetstar Pacific was now on an expansion path, particularly on international flights, having renewed its fleet and restructured, Hrdlicka said.
Meanwhile, Qantas announced in February growth at Jetstar Asia would be suspended due to excess capacity in South-East Asian markets, and moves have come from other carriers in the region.
“The market was overcooked,” Hrdlicka said.
“South-East Asia we believe is on the path to correction which is great.”
The Jestar boss said underlying fundamentals in Australia were stronger than they have ever been.
“We are in a brilliant position as the market starts to slow down a bit in capacity growth,” she said.