Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have given upbeat reports for the first half, reflecting signs of recovery in the Japanese economy.

JAL's sales grew by a healthy 6.7% over the six months to September and the airline is forecasting that revenues for the full 1995/6 financial year will remain largely stable. The airline comments that "good signs" for the Japanese economy and more stability in the value of the Yen are encouraging, but warns that pressure on fares remains tough.

JAL also complains of the "cost burden" imposed at the new Kansai International Airport, offshore at Osaka. The airport, which is one of the most expensive in the world, has itself been piling up losses, which are likely to stand at around ´40 billion ($393 million) after its first full year of operations. The $14 billion project is not expected to break-even for another seven years.

ANA is also optimistic that its financial improvement will carry on through to the end of the financial year. The airline says that it expects the 28% growth in passenger numbers on its fast-growing international routes to continue through to the year end. A 27% increase in capacity was opened up by Kansai, says ANA.

The battle on international routes has seen both the main Japanese carriers expand their alliances, with ANA announcing a strategic partnership with Delta Air Lines across the Pacific and JAL firming up marketing links with American Airlines and Air France.

The Japanese domestic market has been showing signs of life, with both carriers showing rising volumes. ANA has introduced the country's first discount scheme for advance ticket purchases.

Source: Flight International