Photo: Kochan Kleps

MIAMI – Today in aviation marks the 22nd anniversary of JAL Express (JC) commencing operations on July 1st, 1998 with flights from Osaka to Miyazaki and Kagoshima using a pair of Boeing 737-400. 

Founded on April 1, 1997, JC, a subsidiary of Japan Airlines (JL) first operated regional flights from its main hub, Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) where it maintained its headquarters, in addition to Ota-ku.  The airline also maintained offices in the Japan Airlines Building in Shinagawa, Tokyo.

The airline was wholly owned by JL and operated some low demand flights on wet-lease for the parent airline.

In 2008, JAL Express welcomed its first Boeing 737-800 and commenced its first international route from Kansai to Hangzhou in 2009. Five years later, JC was merged into JL on October 1st, 2014. 

Japan Airlines Boeing 777-200 JA773J. Photo: Alvin Man

Japanese Domestic Airlines


The domestic airline market in Japan is saturated with two large companies JL and All Nippon Airlines (NH) and their many subsidiaries serving the large variety of routes within the country. 

Japan Airlines holds a majority stake in Japan Air Commuter (Southern Japan), Japan Transocean Air (Okinawa and surrounding islands), Hokkaido Air System (Aomori & Hokkaido), Ryukyu Air Commuter (Okinawa) and ZIPAIR Tokyo (long haul low cost operations). 

The subsidiaries are majority-owned by JC, but some airports and regional governments hold a stake in their respective airlines. The airlines are specialized for specific operations and needs for different markets within the country. 

Japan Airlines (Tokyo 2020 Livery) Boeing 777-246 JA773J. Photo: Hiro Nishikura

JAL Express Fleet


With the exception of ZIPAIR Tokyo, the other subsidiaries of JC retain the tail logo and similar branding of the parent airline. 

Japanese domestic aviation is unique in the types of aircraft used for short-haul operations. Currently, JL and NH operate a variety of wide-body aircraft on their short haul flights. 

Recently, JC introduced the Airbus a350-900 for its short-haul operations from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Okinawa, Fukuoka, and Sapporo. 

Japan Airlines also operates Boeing 777-200, -300, Boeing 767 and Boeing 737 configured for domestic operations.