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Japan Airlines eyes new Boeing 787 for Tokyo-New York route

04/29/2014 | 05:23pm US/Eastern

Japan Airlines Co. is looking to introduce the Boeing 787-9, the new variant of the Dreamliner jet, on the Tokyo-New York route after the scheduled delivery starting in fiscal 2015, according to JAL Chairman Masaru Onishi.

Japan Airlines' alliance partner Finnair, meanwhile, is also planning a fleet upgrade on flights to Japan within a few years by introducing a new generation of Airbus aircraft.

JAL has doubled its daily flights on the Tokyo-New York route from one since late March, with the added service operated by a Boeing 787. This standard 787 is expected to be switched to the 787-9, a stretched fuselage version that features flat bed seats in business class and better fuel economy.

Onishi said, "We are planning to introduce full-flat seats (on both flights) at an early date since it is one of our flagship services."

JAL offers angled "lie-flat" seats that do not recline horizontally on its current Dreamliner on the service linking Narita International Airport, serving Tokyo, and New York'sJohn F. Kennedy International Airport.

JAL is expecting a total of 33 787-9 aircraft delivered by March 31, 2017.

Finnair is planning to acquire a total of 19 A350 aircraft -- 11 firm orders and eight more under options it can exercise to purchase. They are scheduled for delivery starting in the second half of 2015 and will be equipped with full-flat seats in business class.

Allister Patterson, chief commercial officer of the airline, said, "It's safe to say that we will see A350 on Japan before too long."

"Japan is a very, very important market, so it will be hard for us to keep our newest product off of that market," he said. Asked if the new aircraft would debut on a Japan-bound service in several years' time, he said, "Yes, I think so."

Finnair flies to Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka from its Helsinki hub.

JAL is also planning to introduce A350 aircraft in fiscal 2019.

(c) 2014 Kyodo News

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