AirAsia: New Fifth-Freedom Routes Connect Taiwan-Japan

An AirAsia Airbus parked on the tarmac.
Aldo Bidini (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

AirAsia strengthens its presence in Northeast Asia by launching three new routes connecting Taiwan’s key cities, Taipei and Kaohsiung, to popular destinations in Japan.

This strategic move leverages “fifth-freedom” rights, fostering convenient connections for travelers without airline changes.

Flight Details Taipei-Tokyo

Commencing May 31, 2024, AirAsia X (flight code D7) will operate daily flights between Taipei and Tokyo (Narita).

Passengers will enjoy the comfortable Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft, with select options featuring Premium Flatbed seating for enhanced travel experiences.

Daily flights from Taipei to Okinawa will commence on June 15, 2024, operated by Thai AirAsia (flight code FD).

Kaohsiung residents can also benefit from this expansion, with Thai AirAsia offering four weekly flights to Tokyo (Narita) starting June 16, 2024, utilizing Airbus A320 aircraft.

Three AirAsia aircraft parked on the tarmac at Perth Airport.
Darren Koch (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

Aligning with Growth Strategies

The launch aligns with AirAsia’s focus on establishing Taiwan as a virtual hub, connecting passengers to its extensive network of over 130 destinations across Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia.

This expansion coincides with Japan’s resurgent tourism industry, currently at 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

Notably, Taiwan is a significant tourism source for Japan, with 4.2 million Taiwanese visitors in the past year.

AirAsia’s new routes cater to this demand by providing budget-friendly connections between these popular destinations.

An AirAsia Malaysia Airbus A320neo on the tarmac.
Melvinn (FN2187), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Understanding Fifth-Freedom Flights

AirAsia’s new routes operate under “fifth-freedom” rights, a concept within international air traffic regulations. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Nine Freedoms of the Air: This framework governs international air travel, outlining the rights and limitations for airlines operating between countries.
  • Fifth-Freedom Right: This specific right allows an airline to carry passengers between two foreign countries, on a flight originating or ending in the airline’s home country.

In simpler terms, AirAsia, a Malaysian airline, can utilize fifth-freedom rights to connect passengers between Taiwan and Japan. This can be carried out as long as the flight originates or concludes in Malaysia – AirAsia’s home base.

This allows AirAsia to offer these convenient connections without requiring separate airlines for each leg of the journey.

This strategy benefits both AirAsia and travelers:

  • AirAsia: They can expand their network and reach new markets while optimizing aircraft utilization.
  • Travelers: They enjoy increased connectivity options and potentially more affordable fares on these routes.
An AirAsia X Airbus in flight.
Mehdi Nazarinia (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2 ), via Wikimedia Commons

Leaders Applaud Expansion

Both AirAsia X and Thai AirAsia CEOs expressed enthusiasm for the expansion.

AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail highlighted Japan’s importance as a key destination and their commitment to offering convenient travel options.

“We are proud to launch our first fifth-freedom route this year from Taipei to Tokyo, highlighting the remarkable recovery for AAX. Japan has always been the top destination for AAX,” Ismail said.

Thai AirAsia CEO Santisuk Klongchaiya emphasized the carrier’s dedication to connecting Taiwan and Japan. He further intimated the airline’s focus on exploring additional routes in the future.

“Thai AirAsia has been actively expanding our routes connecting Taipei and Kaohsiung with Japan this year, including the recent launch of the Kaohsiung-Bangkok route.”

“We thank our Taiwanese guests for their constant support along this journey and we look forward to exploring additional routes to Thailand and Japan.”

Promotional Fares for Travelers

To celebrate the launch, AirAsia offers special promotional fares. Book your flights between Taipei and Tokyo (Narita) starting from TWD 1,888 one-way. This is valid for travel between May 31st and October 26th, 2024.

Similar deals are available for Taipei to Okinawa (from TWD 888) and Kaohsiung to Tokyo (from TWD 1,888). Applicable travel periods are between June 15th and October 25th/26th, 2024.

These fares are valid for bookings made between March 19th and 31st, 2024, on the airline website or via the AirAsia MOVE app.


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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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