TOKYO -- Japan Airlines will launch additional flights serving Australia and Hawaii as early as September, revamping its international routes for the first time since undergoing bankruptcy reorganization in 2010.
In addition to an existing route between Narita Airport and Sydney and code-share flights, Japan's flag carrier could start serving Melbourne as early as September.
It also intends to launch a route between Narita and Kona, Hawaii. JAL accounts for about 30% of air travel between Japan and Honolulu, making it the largest player. But competition is likely to intensify, with ANA Holdings' All Nippon Airways planning to fly the Airbus A380 double-decker to Honolulu starting in the spring of 2019. JAL hopes the Kona route will help it maintain market share.
Meanwhile, the carrier will consider halting or reducing the frequency of less-profitable routes. While the weak yen continues to encourage Europeans to travel to Japan, Japanese tourists are hesitant to travel in the other direction due to the recent string of terror attacks in the region. JAL currently operates flights out of Narita and nearby Haneda Airport to Paris, but may stop the Narita flights altogether.
South Korea is another challenging market. The number of flights from the country to Japan is expected to rise about 20% from last summer to this one, mostly on the back of South Korean budget carriers. With fares likely to plunge, JAL may reduce or cancel its Narita-Seoul flights.
JAL was rehabilitated using government money after filing for bankruptcy in 2010. It had effectively been barred from making new investments or launching new flights until the end of March, because of concerns that public assistance gave the company an unfair edge over rivals.