September 16, 2015
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten Acquires Major Overseas
Air Ticket Wholesaler WTS

Tokyo, September 16, 2015 - Rakuten, Inc. today announced that it has increased its stake in World Travel System, Inc. (WTS) and acquired the company. The size of the investment is less than 1 billion yen.

WTS is a Class 1 Travel Operator authorized by the Commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency. Its main business is the wholesaling airline companies’ air tickets to travel agencies. WTS possesses a broad network and strong negotiation capabilities with a large number of airline companies that fly to and from Japan, as well as an abundance of highly specialized personnel. Additionally, it led the industry with the development of SkyRep, an online reservation system for overseas air tickets. It supplies travel agencies with overseas air tickets using the ASP*1 format, and supports greater efficiency in tour arrangement services and new entries into the overseas private travel market.

Even within the overseas travel market, the market for free independent travelers (FIT), which involves arranging air tickets, hotels and other aspects of travel according to consumers’ wishes, is a sector seeing steady growth due to increasingly diverse consumer needs, their affinity with the Internet, the succession of LCCs (low-cost carriers) coming into service, and a rising number of business trips accompanying the recovering corporate business climate. For the FIT market, the ability to offer not just hotels rooms but a variety of air tickets as well is becoming increasingly important. Until now, Rakuten has been selling dynamic packages that make it possible to choose and reserve air tickets and hotels freely on Rakuten Travel, the travel reservation service operated by Rakuten. Now, by acquiring WTS, Rakuten will be able to directly purchase overseas air tickets from the world’s major airlines, including Japanese airlines.

By incorporating the strengths of WTS with the simplicity, freedom and convenience of booking in Rakuten Travel made possible by the internet, and increasing the lineup of products it offers, Rakuten aims to provide its customers with greater choice and more appealing travel services.

*1 ASP (application service provider) is a service format that provides the rights to use an application via the Internet, etc. based on lease agreements, without selling packaged software directly to the users.

About WTS

Name: World Travel System, Inc.
Head Office: 2-14 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, 162-0825
Representative position, and name: President, Futoshi Habaya
Date of founding: November 10, 1988
No. of employees: 73 (as of August 2015)

Structure of New Organization (as of September 16, 2015)



Previous position


Futoshi Habaya

WTS Director

Director and

Senior Executive Officer

Dhimant Thakker


Director and

Senior Executive Officer

Takahiro Kanda

WTS Senior Managing Director


Shunsuke Hoshino


Auditing Officer

Shinichiro Hirano


 About Rakuten Travel

Rakuten Travel is a travel reservation service by Rakuten Group, which operates Rakuten Ichiba, one of the largest online shopping malls in Japan, and other businesses. Rakuten began operating the Rakuten Travel reservation service in March 2001, and by deploying the empowerment model (empowering people and society) that is the shared concept of Rakuten Group, Rakuten Travel has grown while providing support for accommodation facilities via the Internet. Rakuten Travel currently has offices in 19 locations in 12 foreign countries, with approximately 52,000 (as of September 1, 2015) affiliated accommodation facilities overseas, providing Japanese tourists with overseas travel products.

*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

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