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Japan Airlines Corp. plans to encourage around 3,300 more group employees to take early retirement during the current fiscal year, according to sources.

JAL, which is undergoing state-backed rehabilitation, is expected to start soliciting the bulk of the additional early retirement applications in autumn or later, the sources said.

The move is part of the deficit-ridden airline’s program to eliminate about 16,000 jobs in fiscal 2010, which ends next March, as part of efforts to turn itself around after filing for bankruptcy protection in January.

As of early this month, around 4,000 employees had applied for early retirement, and the company has determined that the additional number is necessary to reach its payroll reduction target for the current business year, the sources said.

In line with its plan to scrap 45 international and domestic routes from late September through next March to swiftly restore the carrier to profitability, JAL is seeking applications from about 670 pilots, around 570 cabin crew members and an estimated 560 aircraft maintenance service mechanics.

Applications were also sought from roughly 980 employees stationed at airports, the sources said.

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