JAL (Japan Air Lines)

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JAL (Japan Airline) is a Japanese airline and one of the top airlines in Asia. Based out of Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan, the airline provides both international and domestic flights based out of Narita and Tokyo International Airports.


Additional Airlines

Japan Airlines is also owner and operator of six additional domestic airlines that provide flights to nearby cities in Japan including:

  • Japan Air Commuter (JAC) – Western Japan Services
  • Ryukyu Air Commuter (RAC) – Ryukyu Island Services
  • Japan Transocean Air (JTA) – Ryukyu Island Services
  • J-Air – Regional Service out of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya
  • JAL Express (JEX) – Secondary Budget Service
  • Hokkaido Air System (HAC) – Hokkaido Services


Established in August of 1951, Japan Air Lines Co., Ltd was promoted by the Japanese government as a means to establish an air transportation system following the war. The Japan Air Lines Company Act was passed in August of 1953 by the Diet of Japan to form the state owned Japan Air Lines, taking over the private company two months later.

International service began in February of 1954 with the first international flight from Tokyo to San Francisco with stops on Wake Island and in Honolulu. In 1960, the first jet – a Douglas DC-8 was purchased and they soon reequipped the entire JAL fleet to operate with all jets, adding numerous international flights to their schedule. In the following 5 years, JAL generated over half of its revenue from international flights between Japan and the United States.

Deregulation was considered in the 1970s and was enacted in 1985 when Japan Air Lines was privatized and the two other major Japanese airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Air System were permitted to freely compete with JAL.

In 2001 a merger occurred between Japan Air System and Japan Airlines forming the holding company, Japan Airlines System.


Japan Air Lines provides service to Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. Service has been cut back in recent years to many secondary airports in favor of code sharing with other major airlines. All flights to the middle east have been terminated since the 1980s when JAL flew to Cairo, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait.


Japan Airlines has had the following major incidents since its founding in 1951:

  • 1952 – A Martin 2-0-2 crashed, killing 37 passengers.
  • 1968 – Flight JA8032 landed in San Francisco Bay 2 ½ miles short of the runway
  • 1970 – Flight 351 was hijacked by the Japanese Red Army. The hijackers released the passengers in Fukuoka before flying to Pyongyang for asylum
  • 1972 - Flight 471 crashed outside New Delhi, killing 82 passengers and 4 people on the ground
  • 1977 – Flight 472 was hijacked by the Japanese Red Army on an international flight between Paris and Haneda Airport after a stop in Mumbai, India.

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