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JAL considers massive route, flight, payroll cuts

Date Posted: 2010-04-09

Japan Air Lines is contemplating some hefty chopping of both domestic and international air routes and flights later this year as a state-backed restructuring process digs deeper into the troubled airline’s financial affairs.

The nation’s largest air carrier had earlier told the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation of Japan it wanted to reduce operations on about 30 routes, but has now sharpened its knives and wants to make more severe cuts to both domestic and international services. The airline says it wants to rid itself of the more unprofitable air routes, but is bracing for strong opposition from local governments wanting to keep services to their communities.

JAL says it is thinking of eliminating roughly 30 routes, including all nine from Nagoya Airport in Komaki, Aichi Prefecture, while also dumping flights between Sapporo and cities such as Izumo, Tokushima and Shimane Prefecture. The airline has signaled no intent of cutting any flights to or from Okinawa Prefecture airports.

Japan Air Lines wants to purge some 20 international routes, including those between Narita Airport and Sao Paulo, Brazil via New York, Japan’s longest route. Talk is also under way about cutting flights to San Francisco and Milan, Italy. Routes from Osaka’s Kansai Airport to Bangkok, Beijing and Hong Kong are now on the chopping block.

The route cuts would trigger staff reductions. JAL officials are now estimating that the proposed routes and flights eliminations would permit the cash-strapped airline to cut an estimated 20,000 jobs.

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