• Kyodo News

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In an effort to comply with its court-administered restructuring plan, Japan Airlines Corp. is considering firing staff if applications for its early retirement program fall short of the target, company sources said Tuesday.

JAL has already told its labor unions that it may dismiss some workers because the number signed up for early retirement so far places it only half way toward its target of cutting some 16,000 group jobs by March, the sources said.

The restructuring plan calls for slashing the combined workforce of its corporate group by 16,000 by March 31, about 30 percent of the total payroll as of the end of last March.

If the company does take the envisaged step, it is certain to meet stiff resistance from the unions. Such a move could become quite controversial, coming at a time when the administration is prioritizing job creation.

It is not clear whether the carrier can actually carry out the plan while under corporate rehabilitation, which stipulates criteria for dismissing staff.

Management, for example, needs to demonstrate that it has made sufficient efforts to save jobs and prove that particular workers it has decided to let go should lose their jobs.

JAL’s core airline unit, Japan Airlines International Co., called on pilots to apply for early retirement between July 20 and Aug. 16 in an additional downsizing effort, but only about 220 pilots, or about half the projected figure, applied.

Japan Airlines International has also been soliciting workers’ voluntary resignations from Sept. 3 with a view to shedding 1,500 jobs but has so far met with little success.

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