LONDON – Japan Airlines’ (JAL) new LCC unit is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Japanese carrier is looking to significantly increase the seat density of two of its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft and assign them to the new LCC spinoff.

Japan Airlines aims to put this LCC into markets across Asia, Europe, and America.

The LCC holding company was formally established on August 2, 2018, under the company name TBL Co. Ltd.

The headquarters are to be at Tokyo-Narita Airport.

Leading the airline into this new direction is JAL’s VP of Global Sales, Steve Smith, who has assigned Shinto Nishida as the representative director.

Smith said to those at the Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit that the LCC market share in Asia is practically the same for North America and Europe. “One in every two seats,” Smith says, pointing at a 50% share between full service and LCCs.

Photo: Eric Salard

Smith also said that JAL is a “high-yield carrier and we are missing out on a big part of the market.”

The low-cost carrier is set to commence operations in the Summer of 2020, in time for the Olympic games in Tokyo.

The airline will operate two 787-8s with the intention of hitting the 290-300 seat range. In comparison, JAL has one of the industry’s least dense configurations on their Dreamliners, offering between 161 and 186 seats.

The low-cost carrier is part of JAL’s strategy of expanding the number of cities they intend on serving.

The group wishes to increase the number of cities from 343 to 500 as well as making non-Japenese revenues hit a target of 50%.

This strategy is aligned with Japan’s current social crisis, where more than 30% of the Japanese population is 65 or older. The airline plans to stimulate the overseas market and bringing people into Japan.

With this, the full-service airline market in Japan seems to be reaching its maximum capacity, with an all-new opportunity ready to be exploited in the low-cost spectrum of the industry.

The airline has not disclosed which routes will be served first. However, it is likley that destinations where young travelers with more restricted budgets during peak season will be the airline’s first targets.