Vanilla Air not in the Vanilla Islands, but Japan


The Vanilla Islands in the Indian Oceans comprising among others of the Seychelles, Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius may be surprised to learn, that the budget arm of All Nippon Airways (ANA) is being rebranded as Vanilla Air, with its president saying that vanilla is “loved by everyone in the world”. The Vanilla Island Organization may well be looking at a local airline to help bringing their islands together, but Vanilla Air has no plans to do this.

Executives chose the name from more than 200 other options, taking a month and a half to come to a decision.

“We chose vanilla as our brand name because it is popular and loved by everyone in the world,” the airline’s president Tomonori Ishii told reporters in Tokyo. “I think it is a very cute name.”

Mr. Ishii was apparently unaware of the bland and plain associations with the word “vanilla” in the West.

The airline, initially a joint venture between ANA and the Malaysia-based AirAsia, was previously called AirAsia Japan. A name change was needed as ANA now wholly owns the carrier.

AirAsia is run by Tony Fernandes, who also owns Tune Hotels, and a majority stake in Queens Park Rangers football club.

Vanilla Air will begin flights in late December with a fleet of two aircraft, to be leased from ANA, and will target travelers heading for holiday resort destinations in Asia.

The carrier will be based at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, like its predecessor.

“We will begin with short-distance services but want to expand the range to mid- and long-distances in line with ANA’s branding strategy,” said Mr. Ishii, adding that it would also increase the number of airplanes to 10 in 2015.

He said further details about the new operation, including destinations and ticket fees, would be announced in late September.