Thursday, March 27, 2014

JAL's fleet strategies for 'Rolling Plan 2014'.

On March 27th, Japan Airlines (JL/JAL) released its 'Rolling Plan 2014', as part of their mid-to-long-term strategies for fiscal years 2012 - 2016.
Boeing 777-289 JA8978 'Ganbare Nippon!' supporting the national team for the Sochi 2014 Olympics/Paralympics. The decals were taken off in early March. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

Nothing new regarding their upcoming network developments was revealed, including strengthening their dual international hubs at Tokyo's Haneda (HND/RJTT) and Narita (NRT/RJAA) airports (JAL announces Summer 2014 international plans.), while also planning to restart viable long-haul services from Nagoya/Chubu Centrair (NGO/RJGG) and Osaka/Kansai (KIX/RJBB) (JAL to resume Kansai to London and Los Angeles in 2015.), and relaunching regional domestic routes (JAL to resume six domestic routes for Summer 2014.), most of which were suspended during JAL's bankruptcy.

However, some new updates regarding its fleet plans have been provided. Deliveries of Boeing 787-9s, the first stretched variant of the Dreamliner, will start in fiscal year 2015, and the airline plans to have 33 Dreamliners by the end of fiscal year 2016. JAL has ordered 25 B787-8s and 20 B787-9s, of which 14 of the former have already been delivered. Meanwhile, the renewal of Japan Transocean Air's (NU/JTA) B737 'Classics' fleet will also start in fiscal year 2015. The Okinawa/Naha (OKA/ROAH)-based subsidiary currently operates 13 B737-400s. All of JAL's 50 B737-800s ordered have now be delivered, so are additional orders on the way? Older B777s and B767s will gradually be retired, and the plan calls for a fleet of 82 international and 140 domestic aircraft (222 total) by fiscal year 2016's end. Preparations are also under way to introduce Airbus A350 XWBs from fiscal year 2019.

On the in-flight product side, JAL will start putting its award-winning 'Sky Suite' seats and interiors on its B787s delivered from fiscal year 2014. One additional B787-8 remains to be delivered this month for a total of 15, so maybe their 16th will have it? The stretched B787-9s will be configured with 'Sky Suite' from first delivery. Introduced on their flagship B777-300ERs in January 2013, 'Sky Suite' was expanded to selected B767-300ERs as 'Sky Suite II' in December 2013 and additional airframes are receiving the refurbishment (JAL adding more Sky Suite destinations.). New 'JAL Sky Next' revamped domestic aircraft are on schedule for July (JAL Sky Next new domestic product unveiled.) along with Japan's first domestic in-flight Wi-Fi service. Meanwhile, their international on-board Wi-Fi branded 'Sky Wi-Fi', which until now has only been offered on B777-300ERs, will be expanded to B777-200ERs, B767-300ERs, as well as B787s. Panasonic Avionics is powering the service with their eXConnect product (domestic Wi-Fi will be provided by Gogo), and tests revealed there aren't issues with the composite-built Dreamliner.

Archrival All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA) only introduced limited Wi-Fi on some international aircraft just recently (ANA to offer in-flight Wi-Fi for international from March.), and has been repeatedly talking of technical difficulties, including issues providing the service on Dreamliners. JAL is taking the lead here, but again, ANA will likely complain about JAL's cost advantages gained during their government-led bankruptcy protection.

Source: Japan Airlines, March 27th. (PDF; in Japanese)

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