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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Japan Airlines to launch low-cost carrier

New airline will be based at Narita International Airport and will offer flights to Asia, Europe and the Americas to start flying in “summer” 2020 with two Boeing 787-8s

A JAL aircraft at a Haneda Airport hangar in Tokyo. The airline is launching a no-frills carrier. Toru Hanai/Reuters
A JAL aircraft at a Haneda Airport hangar in Tokyo. The airline is launching a no-frills carrier. Toru Hanai/Reuters

Japan Airlines (JAL) is launching a low-cost carrier offering medium to long-haul flights, aiming to tap growing Asian demand for budget air travel.

The new airline will be based at Narita International Airport and will offer flights to Asia, Europe and the Americas, JAL said on Monday. The as-yet unnamed airline plans to start flying in “summer” 2020 with two wide-body Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

Budget flights have been slow to take off in Japan, which is dominated by full-service carriers JAL and ANA and has a sophisticated high-speed rail network, but with growing numbers of Asia travellers taking to the air the two Japanese airlines are looking to expand their low-cost offerings.

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ANA has said it will launch medium-length international flights, potentially flying as far afield as India, as it integrates its low-cost carrier units under the Peach brand name.

JAL, by contrast, holds only a minority stake in Jetstar Japan, a joint venture with Australia’s Qantas Airways which flies narrow-body aircraft. JAL said it would continue to invest in Jetstar Japan.

JAL said it plans to have outside investors in its new low-cost carrier which will be a consolidated subsidiary.

Other players are also looking to take advantage of Japan’s growing status as a tourist destination, with AirAsia Japan having relaunched and airlines such as Hong Kong Express and Singapore’s Scoot adding flights to Japan.