Japan Airlines reveals fate of its Boeing 777 fleet

Flag carrier unveils a fleet reduction strategy as it persists with efforts to battle the pandemic

Japan Airlines is expected to retire more than 20 of its Boeing 777 fleet before 2023 as it continues to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

The flag carrier says that 11 -200ERs used for international services will be withdrawn by the end of March 2021, but that an unspecified number will be retained for domestic routes.

JAL 777
(Photo: Aviation Image Network/Simon Gregory)

The Tokyo-based operator also plans to retire 13 777s used for internal flights – comprising nine 777-200s and four -300s – by March 2023.

Additionally, five leased 737-800s – out of a fleet currently comprising 48 examples – will be returned to their lessors by the first half of 2022.

The fleet shakeup comes as the company addresses the “temporary demand downturn due to COVID-19”.

By the end of the financial year in 2022, Japan Airlines will have a smaller international fleet which will be achieved through the retirement of aged aircraft and the transfer of assets to its domestic operation and low-cost subsidiary ZIPAIR Tokyo – which is expected to be the leading method of roster reduction for the mainline carrier.

The budget operator currently fields a fleet comprising two 787-8 Dreamliners which it obtained from its parent company in October 2019 and January this year.

Expected to launch passenger services in May, it instead began operating cargo-only flights between Tokyo/Narita and Bangkok on June 3 and commenced passenger links last month.