• Kyodo News

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Japan Airlines Corp. said Tuesday it will start soliciting early-retirement applications Thursday from rank-and-file employees and midlevel managers aged 35 and older at its key flight-services arm, Japan Airlines International Co.

JAL, the nation’s biggest airline, which filed for bankruptcy protection Jan. 19, said it will seek applications from ground and cabin crew, as well as from aircraft maintenance service mechanics aged 50 or older, at the subsidiary until April 9.

The move is part of the deficit-ridden airline’s program to eventually eliminate 15,700 jobs, or about 30 percent of its group workforce, by the business year through March 2013 as it aims to turn itself around under a government-supervised rehabilitation process.

On March 1, JAL said it will solicit 2,700 applications from employees at its group firms, including 1,700 at Japan Airlines International.

JAL officials said the airline expects to reduce its personnel expenses by ¥18 billion in fiscal 2010, which begins April 1.

The carrier also plans to solicit early-retirement applications from pilots at a later date, they said.

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