JAL revives crane logo in return to basics

by Mizuho Aoki

Japan Airlines Corp. on Monday resurrected its red crane logo hoping it will bring new lift once the revised symbol is formally readopted April 1.

A JAL midsize Boeing 767-300 ER jetliner became the first plane to sport the new “tsurumaru” crane circle design, which has a more pronounced feather pattern than the original to denote speed, according to the struggling carrier.

JAL’s roughly 150-plane fleet’s shift to the new logo is expected to take some eight years as each aircraft comes up for its repainting interval. The earlier JAL crane logo disappeared for good in 2008.

“We adopted the logo with the determination of going back to the basics, when we had the spirit of challenge,” JAL President Masaru Onishi told reporters in Tokyo. “We want to create a regenerated JAL.”

The tsurumaru logo first surfaced in the 1950s and graced the tail fins of JAL’s fleet during several decades of sharp growth. The current logo was adopted when JAL merged with Japan Air System in 2002. By 2008, however, the cranes had deserted the tail fins.

The former flag carrier filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2010.

After nearly three years, the carrier has decided to revive its traditional logo to mark its March exit from court-led rehabilitation.

“We hope to survive as a ‘Japan brand,’ and adopted the tsurumaru logo, which is based on a Japanese crane,” Onishi said. “When we first adopted the crane logo (in the 1950s), we launched international flights and began using jet airplanes. It was a time when we were embarking on a new path.”

The newly painted jetliners will ply Asian routes starting Wednesday.

JAL is meanwhile set to retire its last Boeing 747 Tuesday. The carrier is planning to replace the jumbos with midsize and smaller aircraft with greater fuel efficiency.

Onishi said the downsizing is one of the ways JAL hopes to compete with bullet trains, including the Kyushu Shinkansen Line, which will become fully operational March 12.