DALLAS — Japan Airlines (JL) has announced its plan to return the Boeing 767-300 cargo aircraft to its fleet in February 2024. The move comes as a response to the growing need for efficient cargo transportation, the expansion of domestic air services, and the booming cargo mail business.
Japan Airlines ended its dedicated freighter aircraft operations in October 2010 after more than 30 years of service. For freight operations, the airlines used both propeller and jet aircraft, most recently Boeing 747-400s, including aircraft converted from passenger to freighter configuration, as well as Boeing 767-300Fs.
The return of the 767-300 marks a significant leap into the world of dedicated cargo aircraft for JL, the first time in over a decade that the airline has made such an investment. The airline said that three 767-300ER freighters would commence operations during the current fiscal year ending in March 2024, hence the February date.
The type’s upper cargo compartment is capable of carrying 32 tons, equivalent to 24 pallets, while the lower cargo compartment can accommodate 16 tons and hold three pallets and nine containers.
Response to a Shifting Logistics Landscape
Yuji Saito, Chief Financial Officer at Japan Airlines, expressed the airline’s intention to partner with logistics companies to meet the burgeoning demands of the international e-commerce industry.
Additionally, the airline will collaborate with Yamato Holdings to expand its services, ensuring a robust network connecting Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Okinawa with the Tokyo metropolitan area.
This move not only addresses the 2024 problem but also aligns with anticipated changes in cargo logistics in Japan. New regulations set to take effect next year will limit the hours that truck drivers can work, potentially disrupting existing supply chains.
To mitigate this, JL aims to create a hybrid cargo service, combining both domestic and international routes, setting it apart from conventional cargo businesses.
A Strategic Route to the Future
As part of its strategy, JL plans to begin international flights primarily to and from East Asia while gradually expanding its domestic flight offerings, maximizing aircraft utilization.
The introduction of the dedicated cargo aircraft signifies a significant step forward for JL. The conversion of Airbus A321ceo passenger planes into cargo ones, with the first converted aircraft arriving at Narita Airport (NRT) on November 6, marked the beginning of a new era for JL and the cargo transportation industry in the region.
As the carrier continues its strong financial performance, reporting a profit of ¥64.6 billion (US$470 million) in the latest fiscal year, the airline forecasts even higher profits and revenues for the coming period, underscoring its optimism for the future.
Feature Image: JL Cargo Boeing 767-300ER. Photo: Japan Airlines