By Robyn Molloy

Bilateral trade opportunities between Japan and WA are set to increase when direct flights between Perth and Tokyo take off from September 1.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) Managing Director, Australia/Oceania Region Ryo Sadayuki says the airline has now opened its office at Perth airport and is ready for the inaugural flights, timed to coincide with the Japan-hosted Rugby World Cup, which kicks off on September 20.

Sadayuki will be guest speaker – along with Asian Engagement Minister Peter Tinley, Tourism Minister Paul Papalia and many others – at the Japan Business Forum on August 23.

Organised by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation as part of its Asia Business Series, the free forum will focus on the WA-Japan trade relationship, the economic opportunities in Japan and the support available from the State and Commonwealth governments.

Sadayuki says businesses, especially in the energy sectors, have long been wanting non-stop flights between Perth and Japan.

“Every time I visit Perth and meet with the business leaders and Government officials, everybody was so keen,” he said.

He said ANA returned to the Australian market in late 2015 with direct flights from Sydney to Japan after a 16-year absence due to an economic downturn. The company has seen steady growth in passenger numbers ever since.

“What amazed us most was the situation that outbound traffic from Australia to Japan has been indicating a tremendous growth, doubt digit in the last five to six years and still growing.”

Perth was selected as the next Australian city to offer direct flights because of the strong trade relationship and growing tourist market. Japan is WA’s second major trading partner, accounting for 16 per cent of WA’s merchandise exports in 2018.

Japan is WA’s largest export market for petroleum and second largest for iron ore, nickel ore and base metals and fourth largest for wheat exports.  

“The support from Government including Tourism WA and Perth Airport has been great in terms of disclosing statistics and sharing the future visions and strategies and how important Japan is for WA. We at ANA including myself have learnt a lot from them and certainly their support helped us make a decision this time.”

Sadayuki is confident traffic will increase between WA and Japan especially with three international sporting events to be held in Japan including the Rugby World Cup, the Tokyo Olympics next year and the World Masters Games in 2021. 

INPEX President Director Australia Okawa said he expected the new flights will shave up to four hours off each trip, which will bring time and cost benefits to the company.

The Japanese company has its Australian headquarters in Perth and is ramping-up its Ichthys LNG development, which has an expected operational life of at least 40 years.

Okawa says the company books up to 800 flights a year between Tokyo and Perth, with staff having to go via Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney or Melbourne.

“A shortcut direct to Tokyo is of big benefit to us both as a company and on a personal level for our workforce,” he said.

“It’s a big deal for our staff because if we have one direct flight it will make it easier for family members in Japan to visit Perth and vice-versa.”

Okawa welcomed the healthy competition ANA would bring to the route and expected it would drive down ticket prices.

“We are very pleased to have the option of direct flights between Tokyo and Perth,” he said. 

“It provides more choice for INPEX travellers and creates a more competitive market.”

CCIWA’s International Trade and Investment Centre Manager Mike Carter says exports to Japan from WA continue to be in food and agribusiness, mineral resources and chemicals, based on the large volume of preferential Certificates of Origin the chamber issues each year for shipments.

“These direct flights will be welcomed by exporters already capitalising on the Japan Australia Partnership Economic Agreement (JAPEA) and the more recent Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to grow their international engagement in the dynamic Japanese market, which was WA’s second largest export market worth in excess of $23 billion in 2018.”

For advice on the growing import and export opportunities to Japan, contact ITIC.

For more information about the business forum visit here or rsvp to direct to rsvpevents@jtsi.wa.gov.au.