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JAL once again spreading its wings after long rehabilitation

Airline mindful of past lessons as it launches new Narita-Melbourne route

Japan Airlines' inaugural flight from Narita to Melbourne receives a water salute before takeoff Sept. 1.

TOKYO -- Japan Airlines on Friday became the first Japanese carrier to operate direct flights between Narita International Airport and Melbourne, as the company starts to make bolder business decisions seven years after its bankruptcy.

"We hope to capture both business- and tourism-related demand," JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki said at Narita, a gateway to the Tokyo metropolitan area. The inaugural flight, which was greeted by an arch of water from fire trucks before takeoff, had 99% of its seats filled. The airline will operate one round trip to Melbourne each day.

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