Japan Airlines has signed a partnership agreement with Japanese logistics company Yamato Holdings to operate domestic cargo flights with Airbus A321 converted freighters from 2024. 

Yamato states on 21 January that it will be taking three A321P2F aircraft at the start, with these aircraft operated by JAL low-cost unit Jetstar Japan. 

Yamato A321P2F

Source: Yamato Holdings

An artist’s impression of Yamato’s fleet of A321P2F freighters.

Cargo flights — to commence in April 2024 — will be flown out of Tokyo’s two main airports — Haneda and Narita — to three cities: Sapporo, Kitakyushu and Naha on Okinawa island. 

The partnership marks Yamato’s first foray into air cargo operations. The company mainly operates via rail, road and ferry. 

It explains that it entered into the partnership because of impending legislative changes which limit the amount of overtime work logistics drivers can perform. 

“This will require Yamato to secure transportation capacity for subject areas,” the company says, but did not elaborate.

“Meanwhile, JAL also needs to secure transportation capacity as it adjusts to the situation of downsizing its fleet while increasing frequency of domestic operations due to long-term population decline and the Covid-19 pandemic, which is impacting cargo operations,” it adds. 

Neither JAL or Yamato indicate where the A321P2Fs — which will be painted with Yamato’s livery — will come from. 

Both companies add: “[Yamato] and JAL believe that this freighter operation combines the assets and knowledge of both companies and will lead to the creation of freighter businesses capable of contributing to regional revitalisation such as new distribution channels targeting businesses or customers directly from regional areas.”