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Japan Airlines’ Fleet In 2020

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How has Japan Airlines’ fleet changed in 2020, and what can we expect for this flag carrier airline future? Let’s explore.

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A Japan Airlines (JAL) (front) passenger plane is parked on the tarmac at Tokyo’s Haneda airport in April. Photo: Getty Images

How has Japan Airlines fared in 2020?

Japan Airlines has had a tough year. Instead of a boom in business thanks to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it has found itself with a massive widebody fleet with nowhere to go. It started the year launching new routes and had been awarded extra capacity for airports across the island nation.

Akira Mitsumasu, Vice President of Global Marketing at Japan Airlines, speaking at the World Aviation Festival as quoted by Simple Flying, explained just how drastically things changed for Japan Airlines.

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“Unfortunately, the Olympic Games have to wait until next year. And so, we had to cancel all the things that we prepared for this year. So that was disappointing. We actually canceled many campaigns that we had prepared for March, April, and leading into the summer months. The content wasn’t really relevant, and obviously, the mood wasn’t there.”

When the crisis hit a crescendo, the airline was decimated by a nationwide emergency state in April. The carrier would park 70% of its fleet. It would also report a loss of JPY 93.7 billion ($885 million) for the 2nd quarter of the year.

Local domestic demand seems to have returned since then, and the airline planned to have 80% of capacity back online by the end of August.

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Demand was low for the year, but it seems business is returning. Photo: Japan Airlines

What is its fleet today?

Unlike other airlines that we have mentioned in this series, Japan Airlines seems to have brought most of its fleet back online from storage. Out of 169 aircraft, 149 are in operation, and only 20 are parked.

Its fleet has the current line up:

  • Five Airbus A350-900s with one parked
  • 44 Boeing 737-800s with only four others parked
  • 24 Boeing 767-300s with nine more parked. This aircraft series has the most parked planes at this stage.
  • 32 Boeing 777s are currently active, 17 of which are Boeing 777-200s, and 15 are Boeing 777-300s. Only three (two of the former, one of the latter) are parked.
  • 44 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 25 are Boeing 787-8s, and 19 Boeing 787-9s. Like above with the 777s, three are parked, and they are split into two 787-8s and a single 787-9.

During the crisis, the airline retired a single Boeing 777-200. This was due to aircraft age and not entirely due to the problems of having too many aircraft. Because JAL suffered through a bankruptcy in the recent path, we could suggest that its limited growth has saved it from retiring any more aircraft.

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Perhaps Japan Airlines was the right size to handle this crisis. Photo: Getty Images

What can we expect from the future?

According to Plane Spotters, the carrier also expects to receive a new Airbus A350-900 and a Boeing 787-9 soon.

Whether or not the last remaining 20 aircraft will return to active service remains to be seen, as conditions worldwide worsen (with more countries entering lockdown) and the long crisis to continue.

As most of the remaining fleet aircraft parked are older variants of the 767-300 and 737-800, the airline might likely try to shed the dead weight to the second-hand market. This would be a smart move, as the Boeing 767-300 is highly sought after by cargo operators, and thanks to the Boeing 737 MAX crisis, the 737-800 next generation is still very much in demand.

What do you think of this news? Let us know in the comments.

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