JAL to drop 45 routes in drastic cuts to network

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Japan Airlines (JAL) plans to stop operations on 15 international routes, as the loss-making carrier reveals drastic cuts to its route network this year.

JAL, which filed for bankruptcy protection on 19 January, will also suspend operations on 30 domestic routes, says the Oneworld carrier.

As a result, JAL's international and domestic passenger capacity will fall by 40% and 30% respectively from its 2008 fiscal year, it says.

Along with flight cuts announced earlier, JAL will close 11 overseas bases and eight domestic offices, it adds.

It says the flight cuts will achieve "substantial reductions in the airline's fixed costs" within one year, a target that was initially planned to be achieved over three years.

"The extent to which the route and flight frequency plan has been streamlined is vital to achieving a swift revival of the JAL group."

JAL will axe flights between Tokyo Narita and: Sao Paulo, Amsterdam, Milan, Rome, Brisbane and Bali Denpasar, and on its Tokyo Narita-Kona-Honolulu route.

Services between Osaka Kansai and: Bali Denpasar, Guam, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing, as well as between Nagoya Chubu and Bangkok and Guangzhou, will also be suspended.

The suspensions will take effect progressively from 30 September, says JAL, which will also close its offices in Sao Paulo, Amsterdam, Milan, Rome, Brisbane, Bali Denpasar and Kona.

From October, the airline will progressively reduce flight frequencies on its services between Tokyo Narita and Seoul Incheon, Guam, Beijing, Hong Kong and Taipei, it says.

However, JAL plans to triple the number of international flights operating out of Tokyo's Haneda Airport to 14 daily from five currently, it adds.

Haneda will open to international scheduled services from October after a fourth runway opens.

JAL will start five new services between Tokyo Haneda and Taipei Songshan, San Francisco, Honolulu, Bangkok and Paris from 31 October, it says.

It will operate to Taipei 14 times weekly, and on the four other routes daily, it adds. Upon commencement of operations at Haneda, JAL will suspend its Tokyo Narita-San Francisco route, it says.

It also plans to increase flight frequencies on its services between Tokyo Haneda and: Seoul Gimpo, Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai Hongqiao, it says.

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

At Osaka and Nagoya, JAL will utilise smaller aircraft to increase profitability, says JAL.

On the domestic front, JAL will stop operations on 30 domestic routes and reduce flight frequencies on 13 others. The changes will take effect progressively from October until March 2011, it adds.

"The extent to which the route and flight frequency has been streamlined is vital to achieving a swift revival of the JAL group."

JAL filed for bankruptcy protection after incurring ¥2.3 trillion ($25.8 billion) in debt, and has embarked on a financial restructuring process by cutting unprofitable routes, slashing workforce numbers and renewing its fleet.