SPEAKING on the sidelines of the 67th IATA Annual General Meeting in Singapore, Japan Airlines' (JAL) president, Masaru Onishi, was optimistic about the carrier’s future.
Even though JAL's April 2011 international and domestic bookings were down 20 and 15 per cent respectively, Onishi said that "the gradient of decline has eased, and we are seeing a slight pickup in passenger numbers in May versus April, many of which are found to be last-minute bookings made much closer to the travel date”.
Onishi was confident that JAL would achieve its profit forecast of US$929 million in the current financial year ending March 2012. JAL exceeded its previous forecast by almost three times, when it ended its fiscal year ending March 2011 with a profit of US$2.3 billion.
Onishi attributed the optimism to JAL's reforms instituted after it was forced to file for bankruptcy in January 2010. The airline trimmed international and domestic capacities by 40 and 30 per cent respectively, and retired its entire fleet of B747-400s. It also instituted a wide range of cost-cutting measures and focused on returning to profitability.
"These measures we have taken as part of our reorganisation have helped us better cope with the unexpected crisis following the devastating earthquake and tsunami," he said.
Meanwhile, JAL expects to receive its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the last quarter of the year, and have two or three of these aircraft in its fleet by March 2012. The airline has already announced the launch of nonstop Tokyo-Boston flights in April 2012 using the new aircraft.
Onishi also confirmed that negotiations were ongoing between JAL and Jetstar Airways to establish a low-cost carrier in Japan, but declined to comment further on the matter.