Japan Airlines (JAL) plans to increase the use of its low-cost subsidiaries in the next fiscal year, which starts on 1 April, to deal with "the changing business environment more flexibly and rapidly".

JAL says it will transfer four more Boeing 737-400s to domestic subsidiary JAL Express (JEX) up to 31 March, 2001, and will develop its Hiroshima-based commuter airline J-Air with the introduction of two 50-seat Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) Series 200s.

The additional JEX aircraft will take over four JAL domestic routes from Nagoya to Yamagata, Fukuoka, Kagoshima and Sapporo.

JAL adds that it plans to introduce Boeing 767-200 or -300 widebodies into the JEX fleet around the middle of this decade "if not sooner".

The new CRJs, ordered at $22 million each by J-Air, will be delivered in November and next January, entering line service with J-Air from April 2001.

"The operation of regional jets is new in Japan, and if we get it right then we would like to expand and order more," says JAL. J-Air's fleet includes five 19-seat British Aerospace Jetstream 31s.

JAL also plans to transfer more international routes to its subsidiary JALways (formerly Japan Air Charter), which has hitherto been operating mostly JAL routes between Japanese regional airports and Hawaii on a wet-lease basis.

The carrier intends to operate these routes under its own name, and will add Guam and Saipan services during the fiscal year.

Source: Flight International