Japan Airlines has announced that a series of capacity reductions implemented across its Asian network last month will continue for at least another month. The national carrier has been struggling with a severe decline in demand for its international routes since the 11 March earthquake and tsunami, and as a result was forced to cancel a series of flights this month.
Continuing into May, the airline will cut services between Tokyo Narita and both Shanghai and Honolulu from three to two daily flights, while its services connecting Narita with Beijing, Busan, Seoul and Taipei will all be halved from twice daily to daily. Flights between Narita and Kaohsiung will be slashed from daily to three times a week, and services between Narita and Hong Kong will be suspended altogether until 31 May, although JAL will, still connect to Hong Kong from Haneda airport.
JAL will also cut its Haneda-Seoul flights from thrice to twice daily, and halve its services from Osaka’s Kansai airport to Taipei to just one daily flight. Two international routes will also see the introduction of smaller aircraft. JAL will now operate a Boeing 767 on its Haneda-Honolulu route, instead of a B777, while its Narita-Guam services will be downgraded from a B767 to a narrow-body B737.
While JAL’s domestic services are thought to be holding up better than its international routes, the national carrier has said that it will also cancel its daily Narita-Kansai flights in May, while its Narita-Nagoya flights will be operated using a B767, instead of the larger B777. Last week, JAL’s President, Masaru Onishi was reported saying that the airline’s domestic demand has “stopped falling”, but admitted that international routes were still struggling.
JAL only recently emerged from a state-managed rehabilitation after it filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2010. Despite having slashed up to a third of its workforce as part of its streamlining programme, it is also requesting that staff, including maintenance and flight crews and cabin attendants, take unpaid leave in May and June, as it tries to adjust staffing needs to the new capacity levels.