Japan Airlines (JAL) is to introduce a first class product for domestic flights on 1 December in a first for the Japanese market.

JAL announced earlier this year that it planned to introduce a first class product for domestic flights sometime during the current financial year. It says now that it will be introduced on 1 December on the Tokyo Haneda-Osaka Itami route on Boeing 777-200s.

The service will be offered on seven flights per day and JAL says it plans to expand it to all flights operating on the route in the near future. From 1 April it will also be introduced on services between Tokyo Haneda and both Fukuoka and Sapporo.

No Japanese carrier currently offers a first class product on domestic flights and JAL says it will be the "first-ever time" for the local market.

Both JAL and main rival All Nippon Airways (ANA) have until now only offered economy class as well as a domestic business class on some flights which is similar to an international-style premium economy class.

JAL says its domestic first class will feature a seat "as comfortable as a sofa" which reclines to a maximum of 132°. Seat pitch will be 130cm (51in) and the 14 seats on each aircraft will be 53cm (21in) wide, in a 2-2-2 configuration. In-flight amenities will also be offered and there will be dedicated check-in counters at airports.

The carrier, which earlier this year joined the Oneworld alliance, says it is introducing the new product in response to customer demand and the success of its ‘Class J’ domestic business class product.

"The concept of ‘Class J’ was to enable as many customers as possible to enjoy space with comfort for a small supplement," says JAL.

"At present, JAL offers about 8 million ‘Class J’ seats a year. The average usage rate is more than 85%, indicating the popularity of the service, which has contributed significantly to increasing domestic passenger income. At the same time, there have been requests from some customers for a higher class of service, and to respond to these customers’ requests JAL has decided to introduce a first class on JAL domestic flights."


Source: FlightGlobal.com