Jetstar and Qantas' oneworld alliance partner Japan Air Lines (JAL) are setting up a new Japan-based low-cost airline, to be based at either Tokyo Narita, Osaka Kansai or Nagoya Centrair international airports, Japanese media is reporting.
With Japan Air Lines' status as a launch customer for the Boeing 787, Qantas could well be considering using JAL's Tokyo hub as a base for Jetstar's own 787s, which are currently planned to arrive next year.
Qantas' experience with Jetstar will give it a 30% stake -- equal to JAL's holding in the new venture -- and potential management control of the new airline, according to Reuters translations of reports in the Japanese Nikkei financial newspaper.
With Qantas CEO Alan Joyce painting a dark picture for the future of Qantas-branded international service (including proper business class) last week, this strikes us as reminiscent of offshored subsidiary airlines Jetstar Asia (Singapore), Jetstar New Zealand and Jetstar Pacific (Vietnam).
Is this the latest step in what airline industry insiders are starting to call "Qantasia"?
Jetstar already flies from Cairns and Coolangatta/Gold Coast to Tokyo Narita and Osaka Kansai international airports, using Airbus A330 aircraft with a premium economy ("Star Class") and high-density economy configuration.
Qantas has kept only a single Japan route, flying from Sydney to Tokyo Narita using Boeing 747s.
Tokyo's Narita International Airport, some 60 km east of central Tokyo, could even potentially be a new Kangaroo Route hub for Jetstar.
London is only 250 kilometres further to fly via Tokyo than via Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, which had previously been mooted as a "Qantasia" hub following Malaysia Airlines' annoucement that Qantas will sponsor it into the oneworld global airline alliance.
Of course, it's entirely possible that Alan Joyce -- himself a former Jetstar CEO -- and current Jetstar chief Bruce Buchanan are looking to create multiple Jetstar offshore hubs.
Most passengers, even in business class, won't mind whether they fly via Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Tokyo (or even Shanghai, which has also been suggested as a Kangaroo Route airport), if the price is right.