JAL president puts expansion focus on Asia

Kyodo

Japan Airlines Co. President Yoshiharu Ueki aims to expand the carrier’s Asia business by increasing flights between Japan and emerging countries, including India.

“We will try to meet robust demand” in the Asia-Pacific region, Ueki said Monday during a visit to India, adding the airline is seeking to increase the number of flights between New Delhi and Singapore.

He said JAL will explore opening new services to other parts of Asia, including Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

While New Delhi is the only Indian city connected with a direct JAL flight to Japan, Ueki said the airline plans to expand services to Chennai, Bangalore and other Indian cities where Japanese firms are rapidly expanding.

Regarding the impact of the anti-Japan demonstrations across China that have prompted tourists to cancel bookings, Ueki said JAL is working to minimize the impact by promoting travel to other countries and regions.

Ueki indicated that China will continue to be a key market even in the face of the riots over the Senkaku Islands territorial dispute.

“We are certain that (China) routes will grow in the long term,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of investing in Indian airlines, Ueki said it may be an option in the future, but the priority for now is on boosting profit.

“We must secure profitability first and create an efficient system where we can respond to any risks,” he said.

JAL was relisted in September on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, making a dramatic comeback with the help of public funds after its bankruptcy in 2010.

The carrier also implemented measures such as withdrawing from numerous unprofitable routes and reducing its workforce by 40 percent.

JAL’s relisting is the world’s second-largest share sale this year after Facebook Inc. and the largest in Japan since Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co.’s debut in 2010.

Special livery 787

Kyodo

Japan Airlines Co. has begun flying a Boeing 787 Dreamliner painted with illustrations by seven elementary school students as well as renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki to international destinations, including Beijing, Singapore, Moscow, Boston and San Diego.

JAL began operating the plane with the “dream aircraft” illustrations Sunday after unveiling it a day earlier in a ceremony at Tokyo’s Haneda airport attended by the seven students and Miyazaki, whose Studio Ghibli helped select the designs from a field of competition entries.

“We have kept you waiting for a long time. It was to be in the year of the Beijing Olympics, but has become the year of the London Olympics,” JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki said at the ceremony.

The painting had initially been planned for around 2008 to mark the inauguration of the Boeing 787 but was held up by the U.S. maker’s delayed delivery of the aircraft.

Of the seven minors whose illustrations were contest winners, six have already graduated from elementary or junior high school. The oldest is 16.