Struggling Japan Airlines has decided to discontinue service on 15 international routes on which it operates a total of 86 weekly round-trip flights, as...

Japan Airlines has announced a new round of network and fleet restructuring in an attempt to restore profitability as soon as possible.

The struggling airline has decided to discontinue service on 15 international routes on which it operates a total of 86 weekly round-trip flights, as well as cutting 30 domestic routes on which it operates up to 58 daily round-trip flights.

Including network changes the airline made since its 2009 financial year, which ended on March 31, 2010, JAL will end operations on 28 international routes and close 11 overseas bases. Domestically, it will drop a total of 50 routes, along with 8 offices. Measured in available seat kilometers, JAL’s international and domestic passenger capacity will be reduced by 40 per cent and 30 per cent respectively compared with its capacity in JAL’s 2008 financial year.

JAL will shrink its international passenger services by 40 per cent, but the carrier says it is expanding its international operation from Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) so it can “maintain a global network with a focus on pivotal routes that can yield higher business demand”.

Japan Airlines plans almost to triple the number of international flights operating from Haneda, which is conveniently situated fairly near downtown Tokyo, from its current 5 daily flights to 14. In addition to the short-haul flights JAL operates from Haneda to Asian destinations in the afternoon, it intends to use late-night and early-morning slots at HND to launch new routes to San Francisco, Honolulu, Paris and Bangkok.

JAL says it aims to construct a well-balanced network by teaming high-traffic services from Haneda to the Americas, Europe and Asia with its comprehensive connections between Haneda and regions throughout Japan.

The Boeing 767-300ER is growing in importance in Japan Airlines' long-haul fleet as the airline downsizes its international operations to smaller aircraft types, particularly from Tokyo Narita, Osaka Kansai and Nagoya Chubu Centrair airports

While JAL will continue to operate short-haul Asia flights and flights to Honolulu from Osaka’s Kansai (KIX) and Nagoya’s Chubu Centrair (NGO) airports, the airline plans to switch to smaller aircraft on various routes to improve profitability. However, JAL will switch from the 144-seat Boeing 737-800s it now uses on its thriving Kansai-Seoul Gimpo route to 737-800s outfitted in 176-seat configuration in order to capture the healthy demand that JAL says exists on the route.

The airline says it “has restructured its overall network with the clear objective of returning to profitability as swiftly as possible by creating a solid business model that can withstand the fluctuations in economic conditions and by generating profits without overly relying on future traffic demand”.

Its plan includes the retirement of all Boeing 747-400s and Airbus 300-600s by the end of its current financial year on March 31, 2011, “bold withdrawal” from several overseas regions, and drastic contraction in the scale of JAL’s operations. JAL now aims to achieve within a year the fixed-cost reductions it had originally planned to accomplish over a period of three years.

From the beginning of October, JAL will drop service between Tokyo Narita and Sao Paulo via New York, a route on which it now operates two flights a week; Narita and Amsterdam, which JAL now serves daily; Narita and Milan, which JAL serves four times weekly; Narita and Rome, which it serves three times a week; Narita and Brisbane, to which the carrier flies daily; Narita and Denpasar in Bali, which it serves daily.

JAL will also drop its Narita-Kona (Maui)-Honolulu-Narita rotation, which it operates daily; its Osaka Kansai-Denpasar route, which JAL flies daily; Kansai-Guam, operated daily; Kansai-Hong Kong, now served daily; Kansai-Guangzhou, which JAL now flies three times a week; Kansai-Beijing, which the airline flies daily; Nagoya Chubu-Bangkok, a route the airline now operates daily; and Chubu-Guangzhou, served four times weekly.

With the new international-route closures, JAL will close down its offices in Sao Paulo, Amsterdam, Milan, Rome, Brisbane, Denpasar and Kona. The airline will also reduce its service frequency on the Narita-Seoul Incheon route from 21 a week to 14; and go down from 14 flights a week to seven on Narita-Guam.

Additionally, to follow through with its plan to increase international service from Tokyo Haneda, Japan Airlines will drop its daily Narita-San Francisco service; reduce its service frequency on the Narita-Beijing route from 14 to seven flights a week;  go down from 14 flights a week to seven on Narita-Hong Kong; and decreases service frequency on the Narita-Taipei route from 21 weekly flights to 14.

However, at Haneda, JAL will increase its service to Seoul Gimpo from 14 flights a week to 21; up its schedule to Beijing from seven flights a week to 14 (subject to approval from the Chinese and Japanese governments); boost weekly service to Shanghai Hongqiao from seven to 14 flights; and grow its Haneda-Hong Kong schedule from three flights a week to daily service.

New international routes from Haneda include twice daily service to Taipei Songshan; and daily flights to Bangkok, Honolulu, San Francisco and Paris.

JAL has also announced a raft of aircraft changes. These include switching from a Boeing 747-400 to a 777-200ER on Narita-Vancouver; downsizing from a 747-400 to a 767-300ER on two Narita-Honolulu flights; reducing capacity from a 777-200ER to a 767-300ER on a Narita-Bangkok flight; switching from a 777-200ER to a 767-300ER on a Narita-Singapore flight; going from a 767-300ER to a 737-800 on a Narita-Shanghai Pudong flight; moving from a 767-300ER to a 737-800 on a Narita-Beijing flight; and cutting scale from a 777-200ER to a 767-300ER from Narita to Shanghai Hongqiao.

The airline will also downsize from a 747-400 to a 777-200ER on one Narita-Seoul Gimpo flight, and from a 777-200ER to a 767-300ER on another; from a 747-400 to a 767-300ER on Kansai-Honolulu; from a 767-300ER to a 737-800 on Kansai-Shanghai; from a 747-400 to a 767-300ER on Chubu-Honolulu; and from a 767-300ER to a 737-800 on Chubu-Shanghai.