Japanese national flag carrier, Japan Airlines has decided to get rid of its dedicated Boeing 777 domestic fleet. This latest news comes on the back of a massive $3.6 billion annual loss. The Shinagawa, Tokyo-headquartered airline said that its domestic 777-200s and 777-300s would all be retired by 2023.
Additionally, the oneworld alliance member said that all of its long-range Boeing 777-200ERs would be taken off international routes by March 2021. JAL said that some of them would see out their days flying Japanese domestic routes.
Japan has the world’s third-biggest domestic market
Interestingly Japan is the world’s third-biggest market for air travel, and the reason widebody jets are used on some domestic routes. Back before the COVID-19 pandemic, JAL was looking to spruce up the cabins with new seating in eight Boeing 777-200 aircraft and eleven Boeing 787-8 aircraft. This idea has now been scrapped after JAL worked with Airbus to make its A350-900s more suitable for domestic flights. Airbus executive Christian Scherer said when asked at the ceremony for JAL’s first A350 that it was not just that the A350 was 25% more efficient than the Boeing 777; it was also about the plane offering the world’s best domestic travel.
JAL will have a 50/50 split between domestic and International
To help address the downturn in passenger numbers brought on by the on-going coronavirus crisis, JAL said it would also return five leased Boeing 737-800s by the first half of fiscal 2022. According to aviation website Planespotters.net
JAL is retiring the Boeing 777 widebodies to address the temporary downturn in travel brought on by COVID-19. By the end of 2022, Japan Airlines expects to have a smaller international fleet but around the same number of aircraft on domestic routes. This is due to an order JAL has with Airbus for 25 of the European planemakers A350s. JAL is also considering transferring more planes to its new low-cost subsidiary, ZIPAIR, to bolster its low-cost initiative. Currently, ZIPAIR has two JAL Boeing 787-8s that it plans to operate on routes between Tokyo-Bangkok, Tokyo-Seoul, and, eventually, Tokyo-Honolulu.
This move to retire the Boeing 777 and send back some Boeing 737s to lessors follows on from an announcement by fellow Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) that it was reducing the size of its fleet. ANA plans to get rid of a total of 35 aircraft, of which 22 will be Boeing 777s.
JAL is cost-cutting
In other JAL related news, Japan’s second-biggest airline has taken out a new credit line worth 100 billion yen ($958 million) to strengthen its business portfolio. JAL expects a net loss of between 240 billion to 270 billion yen for the current financial year through March 2021.
To help lessen the impact COVID-19 has had, JAL is retiring the triple sevens we mentioned above and reducing executive pay by 55%.
It seems a bit of a no-brainer that airlines like JAL look to swap out older Boeing 777s for newer, more efficient aircraft like the Airbus A350.
Have you ever flown a Japanese domestic flight in a widebody jet? If so, we would love to hear about it in the comments.