snack counter

Japan Airlines

or JAL, is an airline of Japan. It is one of the largest airline operators in Asia. It is based in Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan, operating scheduled and non-scheduled international and domestic services. Its main bases are Narita International Airport (for international flights) and Tokyo International Airport (for domestic flights). It has 17,925 employees (as of March 2007).


In addition to its operations under the JAL name, JAL owns six domestic airlines which feed or supplement mainline JAL flights:

JALways is an international subsidiary of JAL which handles low-yield flights to resort destinations in Hawaii, Oceania and Southeast Asia.

JALUX Inc., established 1962, is JAL's catering company which does a variety of work for the company including the "De sky" line of snack foods, supplying JAL's 'Blue Sky' restaurants and 'JAL-DFS' shops, aircraft fuel components, cabin services and in-flight duty-free. JALUX merged with JAS Trading on January 2004 to unify support operations for the JAL group.

JALCARGO is the brand of Japan Airline group's freight service. JAL is a member of the WOW Alliance on cargo. In the fiscal year ended on 31 March 2006, domestically it carried 338,443 paid tonne-kilometres (tkm) of freight and 85,519 tkm of airmail. Internationally it carried 4,541,293 paid tkm of freight and 161,690 tkm of airmail.

Japan Airlines operates its United States headquarters at Suite 620 of 300 Continental Boulevard in El Segundo, California; Japan Airlines moved its U.S. headquarters to El Segundo from New York City around 2003.


Regulated era

Japan Air Lines Co., Ltd. was established in August 1951, with the government of Japan recognizing the need for a reliable air transportation system to help Japan grow in the aftermath of World War II. On October 25, using three Northwest Airlines Martin 2-0-2 aircraft, and Northwest crews, Japan Air Lines began serving several domestic cities from Tokyo.

On 1 August 1953, the Diet of Japan passed the , forming a new state-owned Japan Air Lines, which assumed all assets and liabilities of its private predecessor on October 1. Its first aircraft, a DC-3 named "Kinsei", was leased from Philippine Airlines. Japan Airlines, in addition to the 2-0-2's, used Douglas DC-3, Douglas DC-4, Douglas DC-6 and Douglas DC-7 during the 1950s.

On 2 February 1954, Japan Airlines began its first international service, flying from Tokyo to San Francisco. This flight, operating on a DC-6B, made stops at Wake Island and Honolulu before arriving in San Francisco, a one-way ticket for the twice-weekly flight cost $650. To this day, San Francisco to Tokyo is Japan Airlines flight number 001.

In 1960, Japan Airlines bought its first jet, a Douglas DC-8. Soon after, they decided to re-equip the fleet, using jet aircraft only. That decade, many new international destinations were established.

Under the , the so-called "aviation constitution" enacted by the Japanese government in 1972, JAL was granted flag carrier status to operate international routes, and was also designated to operate domestic trunk routes in competition with All Nippon Airways. During this era, JAL bought the Boeing 747, the Boeing 727 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 to accommodate its growing list of routes within Japan and to other countries. In the 1980s Japan Airlines performed special flights for the Crown Prince of Japan and the Princess, Pope John Paul II, and for Japanese prime ministers. During that decade they also began to be more promotionally aware, with plane models and other promotional items being produced in quantity. It also bought new Boeing 767 jets and retired the DC-8s and 727s.

By 1965, over half of JAL's revenue was being generated by transpacific routes to the United States, and JAL was further lobbying the United States for fifth freedom rights to fly transatlantic routes from the East Coast.. In 1978, JAL started flights to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil via Anchorage and San Juan; the stopover was changed to Los Angeles in the 1980s, and then to JFK Airport in New York.

Deregulated era

Japan began considering airline deregulation in the late 1970s, with the government announcing the abandoning of the 45/47 system in 1985. In 1987, Japan Airlines was completely privatised, and the other two airlines in Japan, All Nippon Airways and Japan Air System, were permitted to freely compete with JAL on domestic and international routes.

Japan Airlines began the 1990s with flights to help evacuate Japanese citizens from Iraq before the start of the Gulf War. In 1992, Japan Air Charter was established, and in 1997 an agreement with The Walt Disney Company was announced, making Japan Airlines the official airline of Tokyo Disneyland. That year also JAL Express had been established, with Boeing 737 aircraft. Also in 1997 the airline flew the Japanese prime minister to Peru to help negotiate in the Tupac Amaru kidnapping case. Japan Airlines acquired Boeing 777s during that decade.

JAS merger

In 2001 Japan Air System and Japan Airlines agreed to merge. On 2 October 2002 they established a new holding company called , forming a new core of the JAL Group. Aircraft liveries were changed to match the design of the new JAL Group. At that time the merged group of airlines was the sixth largest in the world by passengers carried, and the third largest measured by revenue.

On 1 April 2004, JAL changed its name to Japan Airlines International and JAS changed its name to Japan Airlines Domestic. JAS flight codes were changed to JAL flight codes, JAS check-in desks were refitted in JAL livery and JAS aircraft were gradually repainted. On June 26, 2004, the parent company Japan Airlines System was renamed to Japan Airlines Corporation.

Following the merger, two companies operated under the JAL brand: and . Japan Airlines Domestic had primary responsibility for JAL's large network of intra-Japan flights, while JAL International operated both international and trunk domestic flights. On 1 October 2006, Japan Airlines International and Japan Airlines Domestic merged into a single brand, Japan Airlines International.

JAL applied to join the airline alliance Oneworld on 25 October 2005. The airline joined Oneworld on 1 April 2007, and now codeshares extensively with other Oneworld airlines, including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Iberia, and Qantas.

On 1 April 2008, JAL officially merged its former subsidiary Japan Asia Airways which exclusively flew to Taiwan between 1975 and 2008 due to the Political status of Taiwan.


JAL serves destinations in Asia, the Americas, Europe and Oceania. In recent years it has cut back on service to a number of secondary airports in various continents in favor of code-sharing through the oneworld alliance and other airline partners. Most notably, JAL had a large operation in the Middle East during the 1980s, with flights to Cairo, Bahrain, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and other destinations, all of which have since been terminated.

JAL remains one of five Asian airlines to fly to Latin America, with scheduled flights to Mexico City (via Vancouver) and São Paulo (via New York City). The others are Malaysia Airlines, Air China, Emirates Airline and Korean Air.


The Japan Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft (April 2008):
Japan Airlines Fleet
Aircraft Total Passengers
Airbus A300-600R 18
(4 leased)

290 (0/34/256)
Domestic routes; Ex-JAS aircraft
Replacement aircraft: Boeing 787-3
Boeing 737-400 8
(8 leased)

145 (0/20/145)
JAL Express/JTA domestic routes
Boeing 737-800 5
(28 orders)
165 (0/20/145)
144 (0/12/132)
Domestic and international routes, All leased (International: China and Southeast Asia)
Boeing 747-400 29 Three Class
303 (11/91/201)
323 (11/77/235)
382 (12/69/301)
Two Class
411 (0/74/338)
447 (0/55/392)
7 to phase out by end of 2008
Boeing 747-400D 9
546 (-/80/466)
Domestic routes (high-capacity)
Boeing 747-400F 6F+2BCF Cargo
Boeing 747-300 11
431 (-/41/390) 452 (-/50/402)
Domestic and international routes
for JAL-I and JALways
To be retired 2009/10.
Boeing 747-200F 6 3 to phase out by end of 2008
Cargo routes
Boeing 767-200 3
207 (-/16/191)
International routes
Boeing 767-300 23
261 (-/42/219) 232 (-/30/202)
2 to phase out by end of 2008
Domestic and international routes
Boeing 767-300ER 17
(5 orders)

237 (-/30/207)
International routes; all leased
Boeing 767-300F 3 Cargo routes
Boeing 777-200 8
375 (14/82/279)
397 (-/88/309)
Ex-JAS aircraft
380 (-/50/330)
Domestic routes
Boeing 777-200ER 11
302 (-/63/239) 268 (-/56/212)
All leased
Boeing 777-300 7 Two-class
500 (-/78/422)
All leased
Boeing 777-300ER 7
(9 orders)
272 (9/63/44/156)
New JAL Suite and Shell Flat Neo seats
246 (8/77/46/115)
292 (9/63/220)
Launch customer
International routes
Premium Economy (W73) on Narita-London, Paris & Frankfurt routes
W82: Narita-New York and San Francisco with new first/business class interiors and Premium Economy seating
Boeing 787-3 (13 orders)
Boeing 787-8 (22 orders)
McDonnell Douglas MD-81 12
(6 leased)
163 (all-economy) 6 to phase out by end of 2008
Domestic routes
McDonnell Douglas MD-87 8 134 (All-economy) Domestic routes(retired in 2008); Ex-JAS aircraft
Retiring in 2008
McDonnell Douglas MD-90-30 16 150 (-/18/132) Domestic routes
Embraer 170 (10 orders)
(5 options)
78 (78)
(All-economy; non-hi-density configuration)
Domestic routes
Operated by J-AIR
Business class is branded "Class J" on domestic routes and "Executive Class" on international routes.

JAL has the largest fleet of Boeing 747s in the world (approximately 64, as of April 2007). Japan Airlines is also accredited with IATA's Operational Safety Audit for its safety practices.

The Boeing customer code for Japan Airlines is x46 for JAL International (pre-merger JAL aircraft) and x89 for JAL Domestic (former JAS aircraft);

  • In December 2004, Japan Airlines announced the selection of the Boeing 787 for its medium-size aircraft fleet. It is seeking 30 aircraft, with options on 20 more. Delivery For Boeing 787 is expected to start in 2008 and the aircraft will be used on domestic and international routes.
  • Japan Airlines confirmed an order for six new Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, three freighter and three passenger models, valued at approximately $800 million at list prices.
  • On 31 October 2005 Japan Airlines operated its last two DC-10 flights. One aircraft, JA8543, operating flight JL736 from Hong Kong International Airport to Narita International Airport, touched down at 16:05. Another aircraft, JA8541, operating flight JL952 from Incheon International Airport to Narita International Airport touched down at 16:37, marking the DC-10's last flight with the airline, after over 30 years of operations with the airline.
  • JAL is considering ordering the Airbus A350, the 787's direct competitor. JAL stated that the new A350XWB is a strong candidate for future expansion, possibly to replace older Boeing 777 models.

The average age of Japan Airlines fleet is 12.1 years, as of April 2006.



International JAL services currently feature the fully-flat First Class Skysleeper Solo, Executive Class Seasons Shell Flat Seat, and Economy Class. A Premium Economy class has recently been introduced, along with a domestic First Class.

The international First Class Skysleeper Solo reclines fully flat and features leather upholstery from Poltrona Frau of Italy. The Executive Class Seasons business class seat is a lie-flat design. On international routes over a certain length, an in-flight self-service snack counter is provided in all classes.

JAL has recently introduced new international First and Executive Class seats: the JAL Suite for First Class, featuring a seat 20% roomier than the Skysleeper Solo in a 1-2-1 configuration, and the Shell Flat Seat Neo, a slightly-revised version of the original Shell Flat Seat, with a wider seat, expanded center console, and the world's first in-flight gallery, Sky Gallery. These seats, along with the Premium Economy seats, debuted on New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport flights 5 and 6 in August 2008, and will expand to the San Francisco, California (San Francisco International Airport) route in September 2008, with Chicago, Illinois (O'Hare International Airport) and Los Angeles, California (Los Angeles International Airport) flights following sometime in 2009. Eight JAL Suites will be installed in each 777-300ER aircraft, with 46 seats comprising the rest of the Executive Class seating and 115 economy seats taking up the rest of the aircraft cabin. The purpose is to improve income yield per passenger, while reducing fuel cost per passenger mile, utilizing the most efficient aircraft available.

The JAL and JAA onboard entertainment system is called MAGIC. The system is updated by JAL Entertainment Network (JEN) and features credit card phone, movies, destination guides with instructions on how to fill out immigration cards, active aircraft stats, games, and more. There are four generations of the MAGIC system: MAGIC-I, MAGIC-II, MAGIC-III, and MAGIC-IV. The MAGIC-III system which is installed in Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 aircraft (also available on selected Boeing 747-400 aircraft), provides Audio/Video On Demand (AVOD) entertainment to all passengers. Aircraft with MAGIC-I and MAGIC-II have movies that automatically start when the AVOD system is turned on -- once the aircraft reaches cruise level -- and economy class passengers can tune in to watch the movie in progress. All movies restart upon completion. Executive (Business) and First class passengers have full AVOD control.

MAGIC systems have JAL's duty-free shopping catalogue, including flight crew recommendations and a video of specials available on the flight. When the aircraft is in the pushback, taxi, takeoff, ascent, descent, stacking, landing, taxi, and docking phases of flight, all TV's in the cabin automatically tune into the video camera outside the aircraft to provide "Pilot Vision" to the passengers. This feature is common on many Japanese airlines.

In June 2006, JAL announced a promotion featuring the Nintendo DS Lite. Between June 1 and August 31, all Executive and First Class passengers would be offered use of Nintendo DS Lites specially manufactured for air travel (the wireless capabilities of these units were removed in order to conform with airline safety standards).

The JAL Group has its own inflight magazine called Skyward, reflecting the company motto of "Dream Skyward." Before merger with JAS (the current JAL Domestic), JAL's inflight magazine was called Winds. All of the JAL Group magazines are provided by JALUX.

Japan Airlines continues to find ways to improve its In-Flight Entertainment systems, including on-plane cameras on the wings, the belly, on the tail, etcetera, and also home-theater capability on overseas flights. They are also working on adding more benefits such as Satellite Radio capabilities, etcetera. The most recent upgrade happened on December 1, 2007, when the number of channels on MAGIC-III onboard entertainment system increased to over double, from 57 to 130.

JAL Mileage Bank

JAL Mileage Bank is the largest frequent flyer program of Japan Airlines. In addition to JAL's feeder airlines and Oneworld alliance partnerships, JAL offers frequent flyer partnerships with Air France (except in special economy class between Paris, Amsterdam and Japan), Emirates Airline (except in special economy class fares), China Eastern Airlines, and Mexicana de Aviación.

The FLY ON Program is the program's elite system. JMB members can earn "FLY ON Points" (FOP), elite qualifying miles (EQM) and elite qualifying segments (EQS) on JAL Group and other Oneworld flights. However, a minimum of 4 flights per year must be on JAL Group carriers. The status levels are as follows:

  • JMB Crystal (matches Oneworld Ruby): 30,000 or more FOP, or 10,000 or more FOP and 30 or more EQS
  • JMB Sapphire (Oneworld Sapphire*): 50,000 or more FOP, or 15,000 or more FOP and 50 or more EQS
  • JGC Premier (Oneworld Emerald): 70,000 or more FOP, or 80 or more EQS (only qualified for JAL Global Club (JGC) members)
  • JMB Diamond (Oneworld Emerald): 100,000 or more FOP, or 120 or more EQS

*Oneworld Sapphire status can also be earned by reaching Crystal status as a JAL Global Club member.

Incidents and accidents

  • In 1952, a Martin 2-0-2 of Japan Air Lines crashed, killing all 37 on board
  • Japan Airlines Flight JA8032 accidentally landed in San Francisco Bay approx. 2 1/2 miles short of San Francisco International Airport on November 22, 1968. The McDonnell Douglas DC-8-62 aircraft was recovered after being in the water for 55 hours. There were no injuries to the crew nor to any passengers. Pilot Kohhei Asoh said that he mistakenly believed that he was landing on the runway when in fact the plane hit the water several hundred yards away.
  • Japan Airlines Flight 351 was hijacked by the Japanese Red Army on 31 March 1970 while en route to Fukuoka from Tokyo. The nine hijackers released all the passengers and crew at Fukuoka Airport and Seoul's Gimpo Airport before proceeding to Pyongyang, where they received political asylum.
  • Japan Airlines Flight 471, on 14 June 1972, crashed outside of New Delhi's Param International Airport, killing 82 of 87 occupants (all 11 crew members and 71 of 76 passengers died ) and four people on the ground
  • Japan Airlines Flight 472 was hijacked by the Japanese Red Army on September 28, 1977. The Douglas DC-8, en route from Paris to Haneda Airport in Tokyo with 156 people on board, stopped in Mumbai, India. Shortly after taking off from Mumbai, five armed JRA members hijacked the aircraft and ordered it flown to Dhaka, Bangladesh. At Dhaka, the hijackers took the passengers and crew hostage, demanding $6 million and the release of 9 imprisoned JRA members. A chartered JAL flight carried the money and 6 of the 9 imprisoned JRA members to Dhaka, where the exchange took place on October 2. The hijackers released 118 passengers and crewmembers, and all remaining hostages were freed later.
  • Japan Airlines Flight 715, a DC-8, crashed into a hill in bad weather while attempting to land at the Kuala Lumpur Subang Airport, on 27 September 1977. 34 people, including 8 of the 10 crew members and 26 of the 69 passengers , were killed when the aircraft broke on impact.
  • Japan Airlines Flight 350 was a McDonnell Douglas DC-8-61, aircraft registration , on a domestic scheduled passenger flight from Fukuoka, Japan, to Tokyo. The airplane crashed 9 February 1982 on approach to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda). Among the 166 passengers and 8 crew, 24 passengers were killed, with no losses among the crew
  • On 12 August 1985, Flight 123, a Boeing 747SR bound for Osaka International Airport, Itami/Toyonaka, lost all its hydraulic systems shortly after takeoff from Tokyo International Airport and, after attempting to limp back to Tokyo, crashed into Mount Takamagahara near Gunma Prefecture; it was the worst single-aircraft disaster in history (and the third deadliest air disaster in history, after the 9/11 hijackings and the KLM-Pan Am Tenerife collision); 520 out of 524 people on board died.
  • On 8 June 1997, Japan Airlines Flight 706 from Hong Kong to Nagoya, using an McDonnell Douglas MD-11, experienced abrupt "abnormal" altitude changes before landing in Nagoya. Eight people were injured and one, a cabin attendant, died 20 months after the incident. The Japanese authorities indicted the captain, Koichi Takamoto, but he was acquitted.
  • On 31 January 2001, two Japan Airlines aircraft, a Boeing 747-400 and a Douglas DC-10, nearly collided. See: 2001 Japan Airlines mid-air incident
  • On 12 August 2005 metal fragments fell in a Fukuoka residential area from a JALways' flight bound for Honolulu after an engine briefly caught fire. A boy and a man were injured by fragments. The incident also happened exactly 20 years after Japan Airlines Flight 123. The plane was forced to return to Fukuoka Airport. The sight of flames coming from the engine was captured by a NHK TV news crew which happened to be recording because the service to Hawaii was about to be withdrawn as it was unprofitable.
  • On 2 April 2007, Japan Airlines Flight 329, a Boeing 777, carrying 259 people on board including Finance Minister Koji Omi made a safe emergency landing in Fukuoka, in south Japan after the plane's right engine had to be shut down due to overheating. There were no injuries.


The JAL livery is called the "Arc of the Sun." The livery features the motif of a rising sun on a creamy parchment colored background. JAL is a strong supporter of UNICEF and expresses its support by having a "We Support UNICEF" logo on each of the airline's aircraft.

JAL is known for adopting special liveries. 747 registration JA8908 carries an Adidas soccer livery. 747 registration JA8907 is the Matsui Jet, featuring the famous Japanese baseball player Hideki Matsui. The airline's Boeing 767-300, registration JA8253, is the Expo 2005 aircraft. Various aircraft in the JAL fleet carry a Yokoso Japan logo supporting the Visit Japan campaign. During late 2005, Japan Airlines began using a Boeing 777 (registration JA8941), featuring Japanese actor Shingo Katori on one side, and television series Saiyuki, along with its main character "Goku" on the other side

JALways, whose fleet is entirely made of Boeing 747 aircraft, has painted all of its aircraft with tropical-influenced liveries along with "Reso'cha" titles. These aircraft are used on charter flights to holiday destinations in the Pacific, such as Hawaii. Reso'cha is a marketing abbreviation for Resort Charter. Reso'cha planes were formerly known as JAL Super Resort Express.

JAL repainted all its aircraft with the new livery. The last flight in the old (tsurumaru) livery took place on 31 May 2008.

JAL is also known for its liveries featuring Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, as it is the official airline of the Tokyo Disney Resort. They sponsor the attraction Star Jets (not related to past Star Jets fleet with the old Red Crane livery), which feature a variation of the current livery on the ride vehicles. At one time there were more than six widebody aircraft painted with the special liveries.

In 2008 JAL repainted a single 777-200 to have a green rather than red arc on its tail, along with a green origami airplane on the fuselage, and named it the "Eco Jet", to highlight the company's efforts to reduce the environmental impact of commercial aviation.

JAL in Popular Culture

JAL has been the focus of several television programs in Japan over the years, most being dramas and revolving around cabin attendants. Atttention Please! was a drama in 1970 that followed the story of a young girl who joins JAL to be a cabin attendant while overcoming many difficulties.

This show was remade in 2006 again as Attention Please starring Aya Ueto who joins a class of cabin attendant nominees and later graduates. Most of the action of the story of the 2006 series takes place at JAL's Haneda flight operation headquarters. The series has had two specials since marking the main character's transition into JAL's International Operations.

Also during the 1980s, JAL was again the focus of another drama entitled Stewardess Monogatari which featured another young girl during training to be a JAL cabin attendant.

During the 1990s JAL featured some commercials with celebrities including Janet Jackson who danced and sang to a backdrop of JAL 747s on rotation.

See also


External links

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