Japan Airlines will introduce dedicated freighters to its fleet for the first time in 13 years, as it seeks a “new business model” to capture “stable and growing demand”.

The airline says it will acquire three Boeing 767-300ER freighters and put them to service by end-March 2024. It is unclear if the 767s will be converted from JAL’s passenger fleet.

JAL Cargo 767

Source: Japan Airlines

A rendering of JAL’s first Boeing 767 freighter.

The aircraft will first operate cargo flights to and from East Asia, before being deployed on domestic routes.

The Oneworld carrier last operated dedicated freighters in 2011, when it retired its fleet of 747-400 freighters. Since then, JAL says it has utilised cargo space on its passenger aircraft, as well as chartering other companies’ freighters in response to demand.

“However, with plans for further growth in the cargo and mail business, the company decided to operate its own freighters,” the carrier adds.

JAL highlights opportunities in “domestic and international e-commerce”, as well as other “high-growth” cargo segments. It also hopes to “build alliances with logistics partners and operate routes that ensure stable demand”.

For the year to 31 March, the airline saw its cargo revenue inch up 3% to Y225 billion ($1.6 billion), despite a weakening cargo market globally. It adds: “We captured as much demand as possible through cargo flights utilizing passenger aircrafts and cargo flights from other companies.”

Compatriot and rival All Nippon Airways already has a fleet of dedicated freighters, comprising 767 and 777 freighters. ANA is also set to acquire Nippon Cargo Airlines, a Tokyo-based carrier that operates 747 freighters.