Japan Airlines

For other uses of "JAL", see JAL.
Not to be confused with Air Japan, the charter carrier.
Japan Airlines
Nihon Kōkū
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1 August 1951
Commenced operations 25 October 1951
Secondary hubs
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program
Airport lounge
Alliance Oneworld
Fleet size 159
Destinations 92
Company slogan Fly into tomorrow.
Dream Skyward.
Parent company
Headquarters Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan
Key people
Revenue Increase JP¥ 1,336.66 billion (2015)[5]
Website jal.com

Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. (JAL) (日本航空株式会社 Nihon Kōkū Kabushiki-gaisha, TYO: 9201, OTC Pink: JAPSY), is the flag carrier airline of Japan and the second largest in the country behind All Nippon Airways.[6][7] It is headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan; and its main hubs are Tokyo's Narita International Airport and Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), as well as Osaka's Kansai International Airport and Osaka International Airport. JAL group companies include Japan Airlines, J-Air, JAL Express, Japan Air Commuter, Japan Transocean Air and Ryukyu Air Commuter for domestic feeder services; and JAL Cargo for cargo and mail services.

JAL group operations include scheduled and non-scheduled international and domestic passenger and cargo services to 220 destinations in 35 countries worldwide, including codeshares. The group has a fleet of 279 aircraft. In the fiscal year ended 31 March 2009, the airline group carried over 52 million passengers and over 1.1 million tons of cargo and mail. Japan Airlines, J-Air, JAL Express, and Japan Transocean Air are members of the Oneworld airline alliance.

JAL was established in 1951 and became the national airline of Japan in 1953. After over three decades of service and expansion, the airline was fully privatised in 1987. In 2002, the airline merged with Japan Air System, Japan's third-largest airline and became the sixth largest airline in the world by passengers carried. Japan Airlines is currently an official sponsor of Japan Football Association, Japan national football team, Shimizu S-Pulse and Consadole Sapporo. All Nippon Airways, the largest airline in Japan, is JAL's main competitor.


Regulated era


A black-and-white photograph of a Martin 2-0-2 aircraft with six cabin crew standing in front of the aircraft
Japan Airlines Martin 2-0-2 Mokusei (もく星) on 25 October 1951
A black-and-white photograph of a JAL Douglas DC-6
A Japan Airlines Douglas DC-6A (named City of Nara) at San Francisco International Airport in March 1954

Japan Air Lines Co., Ltd. was established on 1 August 1951, with the government of Japan recognising the need for a reliable air transportation system to help Japan grow in the aftermath of the World War II. The airline was founded with an initial capital of ¥100 million; and its headquarters located in Ginza, Chūō, Tokyo. Between 27 and 29 August, the airline operated invitational flights on a Douglas DC-3 Kinsei, leased from Philippine Airlines. On 25 October, Japan's first post-war domestic airline service was inaugurated, using a Martin 2-0-2 aircraft, named Mokusei, and crew leased from Northwest Airlines.

On 1 August 1953, the Diet of Japan passed the Japan Air Lines Company Act,[8] forming a new state-owned Japan Air Lines on 1 October, which assumed all assets and liabilities of its private predecessor.[9][10][11][12] By 1953 the JAL network extended northward from Tokyo to Sapporo and Misawa, and westward to Nagoya, Osaka, Iwakuni and Fukuoka.[13]

On 2 February 1954 the airline began international flights, carrying 18 passengers from Tokyo to San Francisco on a Douglas DC-6B City of Tokyo via Wake Island and Honolulu.[9][12][14][15] The flights between Tokyo and San Francisco are still Flights 1 and 2, to commemorate its first international service.[16] The early flights were advertised as being operated by American crews and serviced by United Air Lines in San Francisco.[17]

The airline, in addition to the Douglas DC-3, Douglas DC-6B and Martin 2-0-2s, operated Douglas DC-4 and Douglas DC-7C during the 1950s.[9] JAL flew to Hong Kong via Okinawa by 1955, having pared down its domestic network to Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Sapporo.[18] By 1958 the Hong Kong route had been extended to Bangkok and Singapore.[19] With DC-7Cs JAL was able to fly nonstop between Seattle and Tokyo in 1959.[20]

Jet Era

A black-and-white photograph of a Douglas DC-8 aircraft on the tarmac
JAL's first jet, the Douglas DC-8, named "Yoshino" in 1960
A Tupolev Tu-114 in Aeroflot/JAL livery, used between Japan and Moscow

In 1960 the airline took delivery of its first jet, a Douglas DC-8 named Fuji, introducing jet service on the Tokyo-Honolulu-San Francisco route. JAL went on to operate a fleet of 51 DC-8s, retiring the last of the type in 1987. Fuji flew until 1974 and was then used as a maintenance training platform until 1989; its nose section was stored at Haneda Airport and eventually put on public display at the JAL Sky Museum in March 2014.[21]

JAL also began flying to Seattle and Hong Kong in 1960. At the end of 1961 JAL had transpolar flights from Tokyo to Seattle, Copenhagen, London and Paris via Anchorage, Alaska and to Los Angeles and San Francisco via Honolulu, Hawaii.[22]

Revenue Passenger-Kilometers, scheduled flights only, in millions
Year Traffic
1955 314
1960 873
1965 2938
1969 7485
1971 10427
1975 17547
1980 28876
1985 37299
1995 69775
2000 88999
Source: ICAO Digest of Statistics for 1955, IATA World Air Transport Statistics 1960-2000

During the 1960s JAL flew to many new cities including Moscow, New York and Pusan.[9][23][24] DC-8 flights to Europe via Anchorage started in 1961; flights to Europe via India started in 1962, initially with Convair 880s.

By 1965 Japan Air Lines was headquartered in the Tokyo Building in Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo.[25] By this time over half of JAL's revenue was generated on transpacific routes to the United States and the airline was lobbying the United States for fifth freedom rights to fly transatlantic routes from the East Coast.[26] The transpacific route was extended east from San Francisco to New York in November 1966 and to London in 1967; flights between San Francisco and London ended in December 1972.

Between 1967 and 1969 JAL had an agreement with Aeroflot to operate a joint service between Tokyo and Moscow using a Soviet Tupolev Tu-114. The flight crew included one JAL member, and the cabin crew had five members each from Aeroflot and JAL. The weekly flight started in April 1967; in May the schedule was 10 hr 35 min Moscow to Tokyo and 11 hr 25 min to return.

In 1972, under the 45/47 system (45/47体制 yongo-yonnana taisei), the so-called "aviation constitution" enacted by the Japanese government, JAL was granted flag carrier status to operate international routes. The airline was also designated to operate domestic trunk routes in competition with All Nippon Airways and Toa Domestic Airlines.[24]

The signing of a Civil Air Transport Agreement between China and Japan on 20 April 1974, caused the suspension of air routes between the Taiwan and Japan on 21 April. A new subsidiary, Japan Asia Airways, was established on 8 August 1975, and air services between the two countries were restored on 15 September. During the 1970s the airline bought the Boeing 727, Boeing 747 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 for its growing routes within Japan and to other countries.[23][27]

Japan Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita and eleven others deplanes on steps in red colour, from a Japan Air Lines DC-10 marked with an Official Airline for Expo '90 Osaka, Japan logo and text
Former Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita deplanes from a JAL McDonnell Douglas DC-10 while on a state visit to the United States in 1989

In the 1980s the airline performed special flights for the Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko of Japan, Pope John Paul II and for Japanese prime ministers, until the introduction of the dedicated government aircraft using two Boeing 747-400, operated as Japanese Air Force One and Japanese Air Force Two. During that decade the airline introduced new Boeing 747-100SR, Boeing 747-SUD and Boeing 767 jets to the fleet, and retired the Boeing 727s and Douglas DC-8s.[28]

In 1978 JAL started flights to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro via Anchorage and San Juan;[29] the stopover was changed to Los Angeles in 1982 and to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1999.[30] Until 2009 the airline operated fifth-freedom flights between New York and São Paulo and between Vancouver and Mexico City.[31]

Deregulated era

Japan began considering airline deregulation in the late 1970s, with the government announcing the abandoning of the 45/47 system in 1985.[32] In 1987 Japan Airlines was completely privatised, and the other two airlines in Japan, All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Air System (JAS), were permitted to compete with JAL on domestic and international routes. Increased competition resulted in changes to the airline's corporate structure, and it was reorganised into three divisions: international passenger service, domestic passenger service, and cargo (including mail) service.[24][28]

A McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aircraft taxiing on the tarmac, with a yellowish grass strip in the foreground and buildings and fence in the background
JAL McDonnell Douglas DC-10 in 1989 to 2002 livery

Japan Airlines began the 1990s with flights to evacuate Japanese citizens from Iraq before the start of the Gulf War. In October 1990, Japan Air Charter was established,[28] and, in September 1996, an agreement with The Walt Disney Company made Japan Airlines the official airline of Tokyo Disneyland. JAL Express was established in April 1997, with Boeing 737 aircraft.[33] In the 1990s the airline encountered further economic difficulties stemming from recessions in the United States and United Kingdom, plus a domestic downturn. Following years of profit since 1986 the airline began to post operating losses in 1992. Cost-cutting, including the formation of the low-cost JAL Express domestic subsidiary and the transfer of tourist operations to JALways (the successor to Japan Air Charter), helped return the airline to profitability in 1999.[24]

In 1997 the airline flew Japanese prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to Peru to help negotiate in the Japanese embassy hostage crisis. Japan Airlines placed orders for Boeing 777s during the 1990s, allowing for fleet renewal. It was one of eight airlines participating in the Boeing 777 design process, shaping the design to their specifications.[34]

JAS merger

An Airbus A300-600R in the air during take-off
A Japan Air System (JAS) Airbus A300-600R with JAL logo on the fuselage

In 2001, Japan Air System and Japan Airlines agreed to merge; and on 2 October 2002, they established a new holding company called Japan Airlines System (日本航空システム Nihon Kōkū Shisutemu), 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.[35]

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 26 June 2004, the parent company Japan Airlines System was renamed to Japan Airlines Corporation.[36][37]

Following the merger, two companies operated under the JAL brand: Japan Airlines International (日本航空インターナショナル Nihon Kōkū Intānashonaru) and Japan Airlines Domestic (日本航空ジャパン Nihon Kōkū Japan). 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.[36][38]

The airline applied to join Oneworld on 25 October 2005. Japan Airlines claimed that its Oneworld membership would be in the best interests of the airline's plans to further develop the airline group and its strong commitment to provide the very best to its customers.[39] Japan Airlines, together with Malév and Royal Jordanian, joined the alliance on 1 April 2007.[40]

On 1 April 2008, JAL merged the operations of its subsidiary Japan Asia Airways (JAA) into JAL mainline operations. JAA had operated all JAL group flights between Japan and Taiwan between 1975 and 2008 as a separate entity due to the special political status of Taiwan.[41]


A Boeing 737 aircraft on the runaway, facing right
JAL Boeing 737–800 short-haul airliner
Japan Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-11

In 2009, Japan Airlines suffered steep financial losses, despite remaining Asia's largest airline by revenue.[42] As a result, the airline embarked on staff cuts and route cutbacks in an effort to reduce costs.[42][43] The carrier also received a ¥100 billion credit line from the Japanese government that year.[42] In September 2009, Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism formed a task force aimed at aiding a corporate turnaround at JAL, which examined various cost-cutting and strategic partnership proposals.[44]

One proposal considered was to merge JAL with ANA, which would create a single larger international airline and replace Japan Airlines International; however, media reports suggested that this proposal would be opposed by ANA given its comparatively better financial performance as an independent carrier.[44] The task force also examined possible partnerships with foreign carriers.[44]

After weeks of speculation, JAL applied for protection under the Corporate Rehabilitation Law (the Japanese equivalent of Administration in the United Kingdom or a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in the United States) on 19 January 2010. JAL expects to receive a ¥300 billion cash injection and have debts worth ¥730 billion waived, in exchange for which it will cut its capital to zero, cut unprofitable routes and reduce its workforce by 15,700 employees—a third of its 47,000 total.[45] JAL's main creditors (Mizuho Corporate Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation) originally objected to the bankruptcy declaration, but changed their mind after the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation of Japan recommended court protection, according to a senior bank official.[46][47] Shares of JAL were delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange on 20 February 2010.[48][49]

Kazuo Inamori, founder of Kyocera and KDDI, took over as CEO of JAL. Transport minister Seiji Maehara personally visited Kyocera headquarters in late 2009 in order to persuade Inamori to accept the position; task force leader Shinjiro Takagi believed that it was necessary to appoint a proven entrepreneur CEO in order to fix the various problems at JAL.[50] Japan Air Commuter president Masaru Onishi was promoted to president of JAL.[51]

In May, JAL began to see an increase in its passenger numbers by 1.1% year-on-year.[52] In August, it was reported that JAL would cut 19,133 jobs from its workforce of 47,000 by the end of March 2015 – whilst also increasing capacity – in an attempt to make the business viable.[53]

Rivalry between Delta and American

A Boeing 777–300 aircraft with special Oneworld livery taxiing from the tarmac on to the taxiway, with a mountain view on the background
JAL Boeing 777–300 (JA8941) with special Oneworld livery

Although JAL ultimately exited bankruptcy while remaining in the Oneworld alliance, JAL was seriously considering accepting a strategic investment from Delta Air Lines and joining the SkyTeam alliance during the period between September 2009 and February 2010.[54] JAL also had talks with Skyteam members Air France-KLM and Korean Air regarding their potential involvement.[42][55]

The Delta deal was favored by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism because Delta had an extensive global network and had the largest Japanese operation of any foreign airline, which it had inherited through its merger with Northwest Airlines.[56] MLIT also supported a transaction with Air France-KLM because it was a "healthier company" than American.[57]

American planned to team up with Oneworld alliance members British Airways and Qantas to make a joint offer to recapitalise JAL.[58] British Airways said that it was attempting to persuade JAL to remain part of Oneworld rather than aligning itself with Delta and SkyTeam,[59] while American CEO Gerard Arpey said that American and Oneworld remained committed to a partnership with Japan Airlines, as long as it remained a major international carrier,[60] and reiterated his encouragement for JAL to stay with Oneworld during ceremonies to welcome Mexicana into the alliance.[61]

In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun on 1 January 2010, JAL president Haruka Nishimatsu stated his preference in forming a partnership with Delta over American,[62] and the Yomiuri Shimbun reported shortly thereafter that JAL and the Japanese government-backed Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation would likely choose to form a business and capital tie-up with Delta, as part of which JAL would enter SkyTeam and reduce its international flight operations in favor of code-share agreements with Delta, and that American Airlines had begun procedures to end negotiations with JAL.[63] Both JAL and American denied the report.[64][65] The Wall Street Journal then reported that American Airlines raised its JAL investment offer by $300 million, to $1.4 billion, and in separate comments to the press, Delta president Ed Bastian said that Delta was "willing and able to raise additional capital through third-party resources."[66]

A Boeing 747–400 aircraft in mid air, with blue sky in the background
As part of the restructuring program, JAL retired all Boeing 747 aircraft in early 2011, ending 41 years of 747 service.

After JAL filed for bankruptcy, there were further media reports that JAL would leave Oneworld in favor of SkyTeam,[67] but JAL president Masaru Onishi said on 1 February that the new JAL leadership was "seriously reviewing the issue from scratch, without being influenced by previous discussions," and its decision on an alliance partner would be made soon.[68]

On 7 February, several news outlets reported that JAL would decide to keep its alliance with American Airlines and end talks with Delta. Inamori and ETIC officials, according to the reports, decided that switching alliances from Oneworld to Skyteam would be too risky and could hinder JAL's ability to turn around quickly.[69] Two days later, JAL officially announced that they would strengthen their partnership with American, including a joint application for antitrust immunity on transpacific routes. The airline would also fortify its relationship with other partners in the Oneworld alliance.[70]

Post-bankruptcy developments

JAL emerged from bankruptcy protection in March 2011. In July, ETIC selected Nomura Holdings, Daiwa Securities, Mitsubishi UFJ, Morgan Stanley, Mizuho Securities, SMBC and Nikko Securities to underwrite the sale of its equity stake in JAL, without specifying amounts or dates.[71] On 6 January 2012, JAL announced its intent to re-list its shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in an initial public offering of up to ¥1 trillion, which would be the largest offering in Japan in more than a year.[72] The airline completed its IPO on the 1st section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TYO: 9201) on 19 September 2012. The Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation of Japan sold all its holdings (96.5%) in JAL for 650 billion yen, greater than its 350 billion yen investment in 2010. Even though it was oversubscribed several times, post IPO increase of the stock was close to 1%.

Following its exit from bankruptcy protection, JAL began several new partnerships within the oneworld alliance. The transpacific joint venture between JAL and American commenced in April 2011.[73] JAL formed Jetstar Japan, a low-cost carrier joint venture with Qantas subsidiary Jetstar Airways, in July.[74] In 2012, JAL and British Airways parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) submitted applications to the Japanese government and European Union respectively in seeking a joint venture business operation for flights between Japan and Europe.[75] Finnair applied to join the JV with IAG in July 2013, in conjunction with JAL starting new nonstop service to Helsinki.[76]

Corporate affairs and identity


Subsidiaries and Affiliates of Japan Airlines.[77]

In addition to its operations under the JAL name, the airline owns 5 domestic airlines which feed or supplement mainline JAL flights:[78]

JALways was the airline's international subsidiary, which handled low-yield flights to resort destinations in Hawaii, Oceania and Southeast Asia.[78]

JALUX Inc., established in 1962, is the airline's procurement business which handles various work for the company, including the JAL SELECTION merchandise and in-flight meals and refreshments; supplies for Blue Sky and JAL-DFS shops; aircraft fuel components, cabin services and in-flight duty-free. JALUX merged with JAS Trading on 1 January 2004, to unify support operations for the JAL group.[79][80][81]

JAL Cargo is the brand of the airline group's freight service and is a member of the WOW cargo alliance with the following products, J Speed, General Cargo and Dangerous Goods.[82] In the fiscal year ended 31 March 2009, the Cargo division carried 500,779 tonnes of freight domestically and 627,213 tonnes of freight internationally.[83]

On 1 April 2011, the airline changed its trade name from Japan Airlines International Co., Ltd (株式会社日本航空インターナショナル Kabushiki-gaisha Nihon Koku Intānashonaru) to Japan Airlines Co., Ltd (日本航空株式会社 Nihon Koku Kabushiki-gaisha).[84][85]


A modern multi-storey building in blue and grey colour, with Japan Airlines' "JAL" logo on the top right, there are blue sky on the background and a highway bridge in the foreground
Japan Airlines headquarters in Shinagawa, Tokyo

The headquarters, the Nomura Fudosan Tennozu Building (野村不動産天王洲ビル Nomura Fudōsan Tennōzu Biru), is located on Tennozu Isle in Higashi Shinagawa, Shinagawa, Tokyo.[86][87] The 26 floor building was a project of the Kajima Corporation.[88] The building, which also has two underground levels, has a land area of 11,670.4 square metres (125,619 sq ft) and a floor area of 82,602.11 square metres (889,121.7 sq ft).[89]

Several divisions of JAL, including JALPAK,[90] JAL Aero-Consulting,[91] and JAL Hotels are located in the building.[92] The building also houses the Japan office of American Airlines.[93] It is also known as the JAL Building (JALビルディング JAL Birudingu), the Japan Airlines Headquarters, and the Shinagawa Kyodo Building.

When JAL was originally established in 1951, its headquarters were in Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo.[94] By 1965, Japan Air Lines was headquartered in the Tokyo Building in Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo.[25][95] The Yomiuri Shimbun stated that because Japan Airlines worked closely with the Japanese government, people mockingly referred to the Tokyo Building as "a branch office of the transport ministry."[96]

On 28 June 1996, construction was completed on the JAL Building. On 27 July 1996, JAL moved its headquarters into the JAL Building. The Flight Operation Center (FOC) at the JAL Building began on 20 September 1996.[97] A holding company for JAL and Japan Airlines System, a carrier merging into JAL, was established on 2 October 2002; the head office of that company, Japan Airlines System (JALS) (日本航空システム Nihon Kōkū Shisutemu), was in 2-15-1 Kōnan in Shinagawa Intercity, Minato, Tokyo. On 11 August 2003, the headquarters of JAS moved from Haneda Maintenance Center 1 to the JAL Building. On 25 November 2003, the JALS headquarters moved to the JAL Building.[98][99] Originally the JAL Building was co-owned by Japan Airlines and Mitsubishi Trading Co.; they co-owned a subsidiary that owned the JAL Building. In 2004 the building was to be sold to Nomura Real Estate for 65 billion yen. The contract date was 1 December 2004, and the handover date was 18 March 2005.[89]

The JAL Subsidiary JALUX Inc. at one time had its headquarters in the JAL Building.[100] One group of employees moved out of the building on 26 July 2010, and one moved out on 2 August 2010.[101]


Logo and basic liveries

A McDonnell Douglas MD-81 aircraft  taxiing on the tarmac, with a grey looking seaview on the background
A Japan Airlines McDonnell-Douglas MD-81 in the former "Arc of the Sun" livery and with a Unicef logo
JAL Boeing 787–8 in the current "tsurumaru" livery at Domodedovo International Airport, Moscow, Russia.

The JAL livery is called the tsurumaru (鶴丸) or "crane circle." It is an image of a Japanese red-crown crane with its wings extended in full flight. The Tsurumaru JAL logo was created in 1958 by Jerry Huff, the creative director at Botsford, Constantine and Gardner of San Francisco, which had been the advertising agency for Japan Airlines from its earliest days. JAL had used several logos up until 1958. When the airline arranged to buy new DC8, they decided to create a new official logo for the inauguration of their jet service worldwide.

In the creation of the logo, Huff was inspired by the personal crests of Samurai families. In a book he’d been given, We Japanese, he found pages of crests, including the crane. On his choice of the crane, he writes: "I had faith that it was the perfect symbol for Japan Air Lines. I found that the Crane myth was all positive—it mates for life (loyalty), and flies high for miles without tiring (strength.)"[102]

The tsurumaru livery was in use until 2002, when it was replaced by a livery called the "Arc of the Sun." The livery featured the motif of a rising sun on a creamy parchment-colored background.[103]

JAL is a strong supporter of UNICEF and expresses its support by having a "We Support UNICEF" logo on each aircraft.[104]

Following its corporate restructuring, Japan Airlines returned to the classic tsurumaru logo starting on 1 April 2011.[105] JA8299, a Boeing 767-300, was the last remaining aircraft that had the "Arc of the Sun" livery until it was retired in January 2016.

Special liveries

JAL is known for adopting special liveries. A Boeing 747 (JA8908) carries an Adidas soccer livery in 2002.[106] Another Boeing 747 (JA8907) is the Matsui Jet, featuring the famous Japanese baseball player Hideki Matsui in 2003.[107] The airline's Boeing 767–300 (JA8253) is the Expo 2005 aircraft.[108] Various aircraft in the JAL fleet carry a Yokoso Japan logo supporting the Visit Japan campaign.[109] During late 2005, Japan Airlines began using a Boeing 777 (JA8941), featuring Japanese actor Shingo Katori on one side, and television series Saiyuki, along with its main character "Goku" on the other side.[110]

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 tsurumaru 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.[111][112]

JAL, whose fleet was entirely made of Boeing 747 aircraft, had painted all of its aircraft with tropical-influenced liveries along with Reso'cha titles.[113] These aircraft are used on charter flights to holiday destinations in the Pacific,[24] such as Hawaii. Reso'cha is a marketing abbreviation for Resort Charter. Reso'cha planes were formerly known as JAL Super Resort Express.[114]

A Boeing 777–200 aircraft in mid air during take-off, with the view of Itami Airport in the background
JAL Eco Jet

In April 2007, JAL debuted a Boeing 777–300 (JA8941) with a special Oneworld livery to promote the airlines's entry to the global airline alliance.[115] Previously this aircraft carried the Shingo Katori and the Saiyuki television livery.[110] In 2008, JAL repainted a single Boeing 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.[116] In 2009, JAL repainted JA8941 again, as well as a JTA 737-400 (JA8933) to promote Kobukuro and their new album Calling as well as a live concert tour in Okinawa and around Japan. This livery was released officially on 30 July 2009.[117][118][119] It has since then been replaced with a special Doraemon livery.

On 4 September 2010, in conjunction with the Boku no Miteiru Fūkei album, JAL and Arashi (which one of the songs, "Movin' On", is used for a commercial) introduced a new livery featuring the five members of Arashi in the aircraft; the first flight was on the day after on 5 September.[120]


Landor Associates created JAL's brand identity in 1989. After Japan Airlines and Japan Air System merged, the Tokyo office of Landor and JAL worked together to create a new brand identity. Landor decided to use the "arc of the sun" image. The 2000s rebranding began in April 2002 and completed in April 2004. The brand identity firm designed 300,000 specific items for JAL.[121] JAL changed its branding again on 1 April 2011, reverting to the original 1959 brand, with slight modifications.[122]


Japan Airlines Destinations, Finland not included.
  Japan Airlines destinations
The inside view of an airport terminal building
JAL terminal lobby at Kansai International Airport
Further information: Japan Airlines destinations

Japan Airlines serves 33 international destinations in Asia, the Americas, Europe and Oceania, excluding codeshares. The airline's international hubs are Tokyo's Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport, Osaka's Kansai International Airport and Osaka International Airport in Itami. The airline group also serves 59 domestic destinations within Japan.[123]

In the fiscal year ended 31 March 2009, the airline introduced or increased services on ten international routes, including between Tokyo (Narita) and New York, and between Osaka (Kansai) and Shanghai; and it ceased operations on four international routes, including between Tokyo (Narita) and Xi'an, and between Osaka (Kansai) and Qingdao. Domestically, JAL suspended 14 routes, including between Sapporo and Okinawa. Additionally, the airline expanded codesharing alliance with fellow Oneworld partners like American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Finnair, and other airlines, including Air France, China Eastern and Jetstar.[124]

Codeshare agreements

Japan Airlines codeshares with the following airlines:[125]



Japan Airlines operates a mixture of narrow- and wide-body aircraft. The airline provides Economy Class service on all routes, Class J service (a front cabin with larger seats) on most major domestic routes, Premium Economy on some international routes, Executive Class (business class) on most long-haul and some short-haul international routes, and First Class on some long-haul and domestic routes.

For its Boeing fleet (not counting the Boeing 787 Dreamliner), Japan Airlines' customer code is 46. As an example, a Boeing 777-200 ordered new by Japan Airlines bears the model name 777-246. Note that the -289 is owned by JAS before transferred to JAL.

As of December 2016, Japan Airlines operates an all-Boeing fleet of 158 aircraft:[127][128][129][130][131][132][133]

Japan Airlines Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Options Passengers Notes
F J W Y Total
Airbus A350-900 18[134] 25 TBA
Airbus A350-1000 13[134] TBA
Boeing 737-800 50 10 20 145 165 Domestic configuration
12 132 144 International configuration, include 10 options
Boeing 767-300 6 42 219 261 Domestic configuration
Boeing 767-300ER 32 5 42 205 252 Domestic configuration
42 219 261
30 207 237 Older International configuration being converted to Domestic section and replaced by Boeing 787-9
30 197 227
24 175 199 International configuration "Sky Suite II"
Boeing 777-200 12 14 82 279 375 Domestic configuration, 2 will be retired during 2016.
Boeing 777-200ER 11 42 40 154 236 International configuration "Sky Suite III"
56 40 149 245 To be converted to 236-seat configuration[135]
Boeing 777-300 4 78 422 500 All are JAL Sky Next seats
Boeing 777-300ER 13 7 8 49 40 147 244
Boeing 787-8 25 [136] 25 42 144 186
38 35 88 161
Boeing 787-9 6 14[137] 44 35 116 195
Mitsubishi Regional Jet MRJ90 35[138] TBA 3 more ordered in June 2016. Deliveries from 2021[138]
Total 159 85 67

Fleet notes

The Boeing customer code for Japan Airlines is 7x7-x46 for JAL International (pre-merger JAL aircraft) (i.e. 777-246) and 7x7-x89 for JAL Domestic (former JAS aircraft). (i.e. 747-489)[139] The airline operates 10-abreast seating in the Economy cabin of the Japan domestic 777 fleet.[140][141]

On 22 December 2004, JAL selected the Boeing 787 Dreamliner as its next generation medium-size aircraft fleet. The airline is seeking 30 firm deliveries and 20 options; and joined other launch customers to be involved in the aircraft's future development. The airline later increased the firm order to 35 aircraft on 3 April 2007.[142][143] Japan Airlines received the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft from Boeing on 25 March 2012.[144]

On 30 June 2005, the airline confirmed an order for six new Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, powered by General Electric CF6-80C2 high-bypass turbofan engines. The three freighter and three passenger models, valued at approximately US$800 million at list prices, were delivered between 2007 and 2008.[145]

On 22 February 2008, it was reported that the airline has been considering the new Airbus A350 made by EADS unit Airbus, the Boeing 787's direct competitor in the medium-size aircraft market. Japan Airlines spokesman Stephen Pearlman said: "We have taken a look at the A350. As far as adding this aircraft to our fleet in future goes, I think it is one of the strong candidates."[146] JAL ordered A350 aircraft on 7 October 2013 (18 -900 and 13 -1000 firm orders, plus 25 options).[134]


JAL Cargo Boeing 747-400BCF at London Heathrow Airport in 2005

JAL Cargo ended dedicated freighter aircraft operations in October 2010 after more than 30 years of service. It operated both propeller and jet aircraft through the years, most recently Boeing 747-400s (including aircraft converted from passenger to freighter configuration) and Boeing 767-300Fs. Limited cargo activity is now maintained through JAL's passenger aircraft lower deck holds.

Fleet history

A Boeing 747-100SR aircraft taxiing on the tarmac
JAL Boeing 747-100BSR/SUD with stretched upper deck in 1987

The airline's last McDonnell Douglas MD-11 J-Bird (JA8582) operated its final flight as Japan Airlines Flight 730 from Hong Kong International Airport to Narita International Airport on 12 October 2004. The aircraft was originally introduced into service on 1 April 1994.[147][148] In addition, the airline operated its last two McDonnell Douglas DC-10 flights on 31 October 2005. One aircraft, JA8543, operated as Japan Airlines Flight 736 from Hong Kong International Airport to Narita International Airport, touched down at 16:05. Another aircraft, JA8541, operated as Japan Airlines Flight 952 from Incheon International Airport to Narita International Airport, touched down at 16:37. This marked the DC-10's last flight with the airline, ending over 30 years of operations for this model.[147]

The airline phased out three Boeing 747-200Fs in the 2008 financial year;[149] and operated its last Boeing 747–300 Classic Jumbo Jet as JALways Flight 73 from Honolulu International Airport to Narita International Airport on 30 July 2009, after 26 years of service to the airline group. The aircraft was met on arrival by the "Father of the 747", Mr Joseph F. "Joe" Sutter.[150] One former JAL 747SR was being used as a NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.[151] The airline retired its last Boeing 747 (JA8089) on 1 March 2011. The last flight was a flight from Honolulu International Airport to Narita International Airport, ending 41 years of service with the Boeing 747.[152]

Aircraft that have previously been in service with Japan Airlines are (in alphabetical order):

* JAL Cargo also operated freighter versions of the Boeing 747-100/200/400 and Douglas DC-6/7/8.


Cabin classes

New cabin

A light mocha coloured seat with ottoman, table, and enclosure and four unshaded windows on the left
JAL Suite First Class

JAL introduced new international First and Executive Class seats: the JAL Suite for First Class, featured a seat 20 percent roomier than the Skysleeper Solo in a 1-2-1 configuration; and the JAL Shell Flat Neo Seat for Executive Class Seasons, a slightly revised version of the original Shell Flat Seat, with a wider seat; expanded center console; and the world's first in-flight photo art exhibit, Sky Gallery. These seats, along with the Premium Economy seats, debuted on Japan Airlines Flights 5 and 6, operated on the Tokyo–New York route on 1 August 2008. It expanded to the Tokyo–San Francisco route on 13 September 2008, and the Tokyo–Chicago and Los Angeles in 2009.[158] Since 31 October 2010, the new cabin is also used on flights from Narita to Jakarta, being the only Asian destination for which the new cabin is used.[159]

Eight JAL Suites and 77 JAL Shell Flat Neo Seat are installed in each Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with 46 Premium Economy 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.[160]

In 2013, JAL debuted new versions of their economy and premium economy seats called Sky Premium and Sky Wider Economy respectively. The Sky Premium seats, found on select 777-300's and soon 787's, feature the same width as the Sky Shell seats but with a 4" larger seat pitch of 42" and a 3" larger recline of up to 10" compared to a 38" pitch and 7" recline on the Sky Shell seats. The Sky Wider Economy seats, found on select 767's and select 777-300's, feature slimmer seats with 4" more legroom, and another inch of width totaling up to 35" of seat pitch, and a 19" width compared to the 31" pitch and 18" width of standard economy seats, plus a larger PTV screen of up to 11". The newer 787's will feature a new version of the Sky Wider seats called Sky Wider II, which will feature 5" more legroom and 2" more width totaling up to 36" of seat pitch and a 20" width in a less dense 2-4-2 setup instead of the 3-3-3 setup commonly used in a 787's economy cabin.[161]

International services

A dark grey coloured seat with red headrest cover, with unshaded windows on the right
JAL Executive Class Seasons Shell Flat seat

The airline's international services with existing cabins feature the fully reclining First Class Skysleeper Solo or Skysleeper; Executive Class Seasons Shell Flat Seat or Skyluxe Seat; Premium Economy Sky Shell Seat; and Economy Class.[162] The First Class Skysleeper Solo reclines fully and features genuine leather upholstery from Poltrona Frau of Italy.[163] The Executive Class Seasons Shell Flat Seat is a lie-flat design with the ability to lower armrests to the same height as the seat when reclined.[164] Premium Economy is a recent addition, it was first introduced on the Tokyo–London route on 1 December 2007.[165] It features a shell-shaped seat that allows passengers to recline by sliding their seat forward, without having the seat in front intrude when reclining.[166]

Japan domestic services

On Japan domestic services, the airline offers First Class, class J Executive Class and Economy Class.[167] The First Class seat is made from premium genuine leather with a seat width of about 53 cm (21 in) and a seat pitch of about 130 cm (51 in).[168] Class J features ergonomically designed reclining seats that promote relaxation by allowing passengers to move naturally and maintain a balanced posture.[169] JAL plans to begin refitting its domestic fleet with leather seats and in-flight wireless internet service from May 2014.[170]

In-flight entertainment


Inside view of an aircraft's Economy Class cabin with television on the back of the seats and overhead lockers on the ceiling
JAL Economy cabin with MAGIC systems

MAGIC, JAL's in-flight entertainment system, supported by the JAL Entertainment Network (JEN), features the latest hit movies and videos, games and audio programs. There are four generations of the MAGIC system: MAGIC-I, MAGIC-II, MAGIC-III, MAGIC-IV and the new MAGIC-V (To be installed on the Boeing 787-8 and selected Boeing 767-300ER routes)[171] Introduced on 1 December 2007, the MAGIC-III system provides Audio/Video On Demand (AVOD) entertainment to all passengers. The number of movie, music, video and game channels on MAGIC-III was doubled from 57 to 130 by 2008; and it is installed on all seats on Boeing 767-300ER, 777-200ER and 777-300ER aircraft.[172] 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; and all movies restart upon completion. Executive and First Class passengers have full AVOD control. MAGIC systems also have JAL's duty-free shopping catalogue, including flight crew recommendations and a video of specials available on the flight.[173] MAGIC-V will feature the same entertainment as MAGIC-III, but with a touch screen controller, along with a handset. There will be USB ports for iPod connectivity, and an easier to control handset. (Being introduced on selected Boeing 767-300ER routes in late October). The MAGIC-III system is used on internationally configured Boeing 767-300 with Skyluxe Seat, older internationally configured Boeing 767-300ER with Skyluxe Seat, all Boeing 777-200ER, older Boeing 777-300ER with Skysleeper Solo/Suite first class and Shell Flat Seat/Neo Business class. The MAGIC-IV is used on internationally configured Boeing 737-800s, along with a newer look of Skyluxe Seat. It uses 9-inch touchscreens by Panasonic eFX. The MAGIC-V system is deploying across the fleet, with selected Boeing 767-300ERs (Skyrecliner seat) and B787-8 (Shell Flat Neo seat) getting the newest IFE. Followed by refurbished Boeing 777-300ERs (all aircraft) and selected Boeing 767-300ER aircraft (including those with Skyluxe seat) will get the MAGIC-V along with new seats in all classes.

Aircraft cameras

A television screen with the view of the city from the aircraft's nose camera
In-flight nose camera view

On most JAL international flights, on-plane cameras are available, either on the wings, the belly or on the tail. When the aircraft is in the pushback; taxi; takeoff; ascent; descent; stacking; landing; 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.[174]

Additional media

Skyward, the airline group's inflight magazine, reflecting the company motto of "Dream Skyward". Prior to the merger with JAS, JAL's inflight magazine was called Winds.[175] All of the JAL Group magazines are provided by JALUX.[176]

In a promotion, between 1 June and 31 August 2006, all Executive and First Class passengers would be offered use of Nintendo DS Lites specially manufactured for air travel, with the wireless capabilities removed in order to conform with airline safety standards.[177]

A picture with a glass of water on the left, a napkin on the top, with two bowls on the far right and three dishes in the center and right, all contained on a serving tray
JAL Executive Class Seasons in-flight meal

In-flight catering

Japan Airlines offers meals on intercontinental routes, depending on the cabin class, destination and flight length. Western and Japanese menu selections are typically offered, including seasonal menu selections varied by destination.[178][179] Special meal offerings can be requested in each class during booking, including children's, religious, vegetarian, and other meals.[180] The airline has worked with high-profile chefs, including Fumiko Kono, Shinichi Sato, Koji Shimomura, Naoki Uchiyama, Chikara Yamada, Seiji Yamammoto and Hiroki Yoshitake in the creation of their menus and in 2016, launched a children's menu created by Kono, Yamada, Yamammoto, and Yosuke Suga.[181][182]

Sakura Lounge

Sakura Lounge, named after the Japanese word for cherry blossom, is Japan Airlines' signature lounge. In addition, the airline also operates the following international, including First Class Lounge, Sakura Lounge annex and JAL Lounge; and domestic lounges, including Diamond Premier Lounge and JAL Lounge. Access to the lounges depend on the class of travel or the membership status in the JAL Mileage Bank or JAL Global Club.[183][184][185]

A three-seater couch with two coffee tables in the front and two side tables on both side, all in neutral brown colour
Sakura Lounge in Narita International Airport Terminal 2

The Sakura Lounge offers complimentary beverages, including juice, soda drinks, coffee, tea, mineral water and alcohol drinks; and snacks. A variety of reading materials are also available, such as major, local and sports newspapers; weekly magazines and economy books. Business services include public phones, fax and copy machines; and connect personal computer for internet communication using the wire LAN and the wireless LAN available in the Sakura lounges.[186]

JAL Mileage Bank

Japan Airlines' "JAL" logo in black font in full capitals with a red and silver arc cross the character "A" in the middle, the words "Mileage Bank" in smaller black font in full capitals on the right and top aligned
JAL Mileage Bank logo

JAL Mileage Bank (JMB) is the travel rewards programme of JAL Group, including Japan Airlines, JALways, JAL Express, Japan Transocean Air, Japan Air Commuter, Hokkaido Air System and Ryukyu Air Commuter. The programme's airline partners also include JAL's Oneworld partners, as well as Air France, China Eastern Airlines and Emirates. For the airline's most frequent flyers, JMB offers Fly On Programme, a frequent flyer service status programme; and JAL Global Club (JGC), an exclusive club designed for experienced travelers.[187][188]

The JMB programme has no membership fee, and mileage will be valid to the last day of the 36th month following the month of the flight or transaction date. In addition, if a JMB member does not accumulate mileage within 36 months after becoming a member, or a JMB member's account remains inactive at zero mileage for a consecutive 36-month period, JAL may withdraw or cancel the membership of such member.[187][189]

JMB Fly On Programme

The Fly On Programme is the frequent flyer service status programme and is divided into four membership levels, Crystal, Sapphire, JGC Premier and Diamond, based on the member's travel in the last calendar year. Additionally, a minimum of four JAL Group flights on eligible fare classes are required. Members earn Fly On points on eligible fare classes on JAL Group and Oneworld member airlines. These are used to calculate the member's eligibility for membership renewal, upgrade or downgrade during the membership year. Higher-tiered members are provided with increased travel benefits such as bonus mileage, additional baggage allowance, priority boarding and airport lounge access. There are two phases to the Fly On Programme service benefits; one begins after two months following qualification for membership and the other begins from April of the following year. Membership is valid until 31 March of the second year following membership qualification.[190][191]


Crystal level is achieved or retained when the member earns 30,000 Fly On Points (includes 15,000 Fly On Points earned by JAL Group airline flights) or boarding more than 30 flights and minimum of 10,000 Fly On Points. Services and benefits after two months of membership qualification include priority wait-listing, 50 percent bonus mileage, airport lounge access for Japan domestic flights with lounge coupons via mileage deduction, priority check-in at Executive Class counters for international flights, JGC counters and priority baggage for class J on JAL Group domestic flights, 10 kg (22 lb) or one piece of extra baggage allowance, priority boarding on international flights, priority airport standby and class J upgrade with class J coupon via mileage deduction. JMB Crystal membership level is equivalent to Oneworld Sapphire tier status, which entitles members to Oneworld Ruby benefits when travelling on a Oneworld member airline.[192][193]


Sapphire level is achieved or retained when the member earns 50,000 Fly On Points (includes 25,000 Fly On Points earned by JAL Group airline flights) or boarding more than 50 flights and minimum of 15,000 Fly On Points. Additional services and benefits for Sapphire members after two months of membership qualification include 100 percent bonus mileage, JAL or Sakura Lounge access with one guest when flying on JAL Group airline flights. Priority check-in at First Class counters for international flights and JGC counters for Japan domestic flights, priority baggage, 20 kg (44 lb) or one piece of extra baggage allowance and access to JAL Fast Security Lane. JMB Sapphire members will be invited to join the JGC, which is dedicated to cater for experienced travelers. JMB Sapphire membership level is equivalent to Oneworld Sapphire tier status, which entitles members to Oneworld Sapphire benefits when travelling on a Oneworld member airline.[193][194]

JGC Premier

large circular multi-story building with stepped upper levels, facade consisting of multiple rows of balconies; foreground is a tree-lined park area, with a curved walkway railing, and additional buildings behind
Hotel Nikko Tokyo, part of the Fly On rewards programme

JGC Premier is achieved or retained when the member earns 80,000 Fly On Points (includes 40,000 Fly On Points earned by JAL Group airline flights) or boarding more than 80 flights and minimum of 25,000 Fly On Points. Additional services and benefits for JGC Premier members after two months of membership qualification include mileage expiry suspension during membership period, First Class and Diamond / Premier Lounge access with one guest when flying on JAL Group airline flights, and priority check-in at First Class counters and priority boarding for both international and domestic flights. JGC Premier membership level is equivalent to Oneworld Emerald tier status, which entitles members to Oneworld Emerald benefits when travelling on a Oneworld member airline.[193][195]


The highest membership level in the Fly On Programme of the JAL Mileage Bank. Diamond level is achieved or retained when the member earns 100,000 Fly On Points (includes 50,000 Fly On Points earned by JAL Group airline flights) or boarding more than 120 flights and minimum of 35,000 Fly On Points. Additional services and benefits for Diamond members after two months of membership qualification include 125 percent bonus mileage and any seat award tickets with double mileage deduction. JMB Diamond membership level is equivalent to Oneworld Emerald tier status, which entitles members to Oneworld Emerald benefits when travelling on a Oneworld member airline.[193][196]

JAL Global Club

The words "JAL Global Club" in gold color and in italics, with the first and last characters in script like font. Each word is stacked on top of each other and center aligned
JAL Global Club logo

The JAL Global Club is an exclusive club dedicated to catering to JAL Group's most experienced and valuable travelers. Membership is available to JMB members who have earned 50,000 Fly On Points or boarding more than 50 flights and minimum of 15,000 Fly On Points. In addition, membership can be enrolled under JALCARD Club-A, Club-A Gold or JAL's Diners Club membership after payment of an annual fee. Lifetime membership will be given as long as a one-time qualifying member continues to pay the JALCARD annual fee. The Oneworld tier status as a JGC member will depend on the JMB Fly On programme membership levels, with the following exception: JGC members will automatically attain Oneworld Sapphire status upon enrollment, regardless of the number of FLY ON Points accumulated in the previous calendar year.[197][198]

JGC benefits include 3,000 bonus miles for the first JAL Group eligible flight flown every year, JAL or Sakura Lounge access with one guest, priority baggage, 20 kg (44 lb) or two pieces of extra baggage allowance, priority check-in, personalized leather baggage tags, annual gifts of a calendar and a diary and exclusive use of member lounges at designated hotels. In addition, JALCARD Club-A, Club-A Gold and JAL Diners Club holders receive 35 percent JALCARD flight bonus mileage.[197]

Japan Airlines has been the focus of several television programs in Japan over the years, most being dramas revolving around cabin attendants. Attention 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 operations headquarters. The series has had two specials since the original, marking the main character's transition into JAL's international operations.[199]

During the 1980s, JAL was also the focus of another drama entitled Stewardess Monogatari which featured another young girl during training to be a JAL cabin attendant.[200] During the 1990s, JAL featured several commercials with celebrities, including Janet Jackson who danced and sang to a backdrop of JAL 747s on rotation.[201]

The Airline has also been mentioned or shown in anime as well. In K-ON!! The movie a JAL Boeing 777 in J-Bird livery was used on a flight from Narita to London Heathrow.

A JAL 747 was also shown at the beginning of the live action version of the Prince of Tennis movie.

The company's internal processes prior to the crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123 and its reaction to the accident are subject of the book Shizumanu Taiyō and the 2009 Japanese movie of the same name, albeit the company being fictionalized as National Airlines.

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