Carry On: News for business travellers

Jetstar Japan's first year | Convenience chain sells air tickets | Qatar opens in Harrods | TigerAir rebrands | Virgin's Golden Wallet | Frequent flying pets

Japanese like low cost travel
Jetstar Japan has become that country’s largest budget airline just 12 months after taking to domestic skies. Jetstar Airways was the first discount carrier to fly international services to Japan when it began long haul flying to Osaka in 2007. Jetstar Japan has grown from two to 12 aircraft over the past year, carried more than 1.6 million passengers and is now the largest airline operating from Tokyo Narita Airport.

The growth is testament to the huge appetite of Japanese consumers for low fares, Jetsar Group chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka says. "Six years ago, many industry commentators said the Japanese consumer would struggle to accept the LCC [low cost carrier] model and since then the Japanese consumer has spoken. Japanese consumers like low fares and want greater access to travel, too."

Meanwhile, Jetstar Japan is the first airline to sell tickets through the ubiiqitous Lawson convenience store franchise chain. The arrangement enables customers to book Jetstar Japan air tickets using the multi-media terminals (known as Lawson Loppi) and pay for them only in cash at the chain’s 10,000 plus stores.

Qatar opens in Harrods
Jetstar Japan is not the only airline selling tickets through stores. Qatar Airways has opened an office in Harrods of Knightsbridge, another sign of the competition among the Gulf airlines for global supremacy in serving the top end of the market. Qatar offers a personalised booking service for travellers wanting to visit the airline’s 128 destinations in six continents.

Tiger rebrands under Virgin
Budget carrier Tiger Airways has rebranded as TigerAir just days from the completion of Virgin Australia’s 60% takeover of Tiger. When the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reviewed the takeover in April, it noted that Tiger was unlikely to survive in the local market unless the takeover proceeded. This is highlighted by the $A69 million loss reported for 2012-13. The result was a slight improvement on the 2011-12 loss of $A77 million.

Global Wallet launched
Virgin Australia has launched the Global Wallet, Australia’s first prepaid travel money card for members of its Velocity Frequent Flyer loyalty programme. Over the coming weeks, members who have opted in will begin receiving the Global Wallet, which is located on one side of the new-look Velocity membership card. Designed in partnership with Visa, it enables members to: Access 9 foreign currencies; load money and store it in Australian dollars plus four foreign currencies at one time; make purchases at over 30 million locations around the world, wherever Visa is accepted; withdraw funds from more than two million ATMs in Australia and around the world; and earn one point for every $A2 spent in Australia and one point for every $A1 spent overseas.

Points for pets
Virgin Australia has launched a new frequent flyer programme for pets. Members of the airline's Velocity scheme can earn 300 points every time their dog or cat flies on the Virgin Australia domestic network. "Virgin Australia flies almost 30,000 pets each year around Australia, and a large proportion are owned by Velocity members, so we know how important their companions are to them," says Neil Thompson, chief executive officer of Velocity Frequent Flyer.