Japan Airlines

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Japan Airlines
Nihon Kōkū Kabushiki-gaisha
Japan Airlines Logo (2011).svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1 August 1951;70 years ago (1951-08-01) (as Japan Air Lines)
Commenced operations25 October 1951;69 years ago (1951-10-25)
Secondary hubs
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program
Alliance Oneworld
Fleet size157
Destinations 92
Parent company
5 controlling shareholders, mostly investment trust management banks [2]
Traded as TYO: 9201
TOPIX Large 70 component
Headquarters Shinagawa, Tokyo
Key people
  • Yoshiharu Ueki (Chairman & Representative Director)
  • Yuji Akasaka (President & CEO) [3] [4]
Revenue Decrease2.svg JP¥1.411 trillion (2019) [5]
Operating income Decrease2.svg JP¥96.5 billion (2019) [5]
Net income Decrease2.svg JP¥57.4 billion (2019) [5]
Website jal.com

Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. (日本航空株式会社, Nihon Kōkū Kabushiki-gaisha), also known as JAL (Jaru) or Nikkō (日航), is an international airline and Japan's flag carrier, headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its main hubs are Tokyo's Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport, as well as Osaka's Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport. JAL group companies include Japan Airlines, J-Air, Japan Air Commuter, Japan Transocean Air, and Ryukyu Air Commuter for domestic feeder services, and JAL Cargo for cargo and mail services.


JAL group operations include scheduled and non-scheduled international and domestic passenger and cargo services to 220 destinations in 35 countries worldwide, including codeshares. The group has a fleet of 279 aircraft. In the fiscal year ended 31 March 2009, the airline group carried over 52 million passengers and over 1.1 million tons of cargo and mail. Japan Airlines, J-Air, JAL Express, and Japan Transocean Air are members of the Oneworld airline alliance network.

JAL was established in 1951 and became the national airline of Japan in 1953. [6] After over three decades of service and expansion, the airline was fully privatised in 1987. In 2002, the airline merged with Japan Air System, Japan's third-largest airline, and became the sixth-largest airline in the world by passengers carried. Japan Airlines is currently an official sponsor of Japan Football Association, Japan national football team, Shimizu S-Pulse, and Consadole Sapporo. All Nippon Airways, the largest airline in Japan, is JAL's main competitor.


Regulated era


Japan Airlines flight attendants in front of Martin 2-0-2 Mokusei (mokuXing 
) on the occasion of the airline's inaugural flight, 25 October 1951 JAL Aircraft Mokusei-go.JPG
Japan Airlines flight attendants in front of Martin 2-0-2 Mokusei (もく星) on the occasion of the airline's inaugural flight, 25 October 1951
A Japan Airlines Douglas DC-6A (named City of Nara) at San Francisco International Airport in March 1954 DC-6AJapan Air LinesJA6203sf54 (4484589647).jpg
A Japan Airlines Douglas DC-6A (named City of Nara ) at San Francisco International Airport in March 1954

Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. was established on 1 August 1951, with the government of Japan recognising the need for a reliable air transportation system to help Japan grow in the aftermath of the World War II. The airline was founded with an initial capital of ¥100 million; its headquarters were located in Ginza, Chūō, Tokyo. Between 27 and 29 August, the airline operated invitational flights on a Douglas DC-3 Kinsei, leased from Philippine Airlines. On 25 October, Japan's first postwar domestic airline service was inaugurated, using a Martin 2-0-2 aircraft, named Mokusei, and crew leased from Northwest Orient Airlines subsidiary TALOA. [7]

On 1 August 1953, the National Diet passed the Japan Airlines Company Act (日本航空株式会社法, Nihon Kōkū Kabushiki-gaisha Hō) forming a new state-owned Japan Airlines on 1 October, which assumed all assets and liabilities of its private predecessor. [8] [9] [10] [11] By 1953, the JAL network extended northward from Tokyo to Sapporo and Misawa, and westward to Nagoya, Osaka, Iwakuni, and Fukuoka. [12]

On 2 February 1954, the airline began international flights, carrying 18 passengers from Tokyo to San Francisco on a Douglas DC-6B City of Tokyo via Wake Island and Honolulu. [8] [11] [13] [14] The flights between Tokyo and San Francisco are still Flights 1 and 2, to commemorate its first international service. [15] The early flights were advertised as being operated by American crews and serviced by United Airlines in San Francisco. [16]

The airline, in addition to the Douglas DC-3, Douglas DC-6B, and Martin 2-0-2s, operated Douglas DC-4s and Douglas DC-7Cs during the 1950s. [8] JAL flew to Hong Kong via Okinawa by 1955, having pared down its domestic network to Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Sapporo. [17] By 1958, the Hong Kong route had been extended to Bangkok and Singapore. [18] With DC-7Cs, JAL was able to fly nonstop between Seattle and Tokyo in 1959. [19]

Jet era

JAL's first jet, the Douglas DC-8, named Yoshino, in 1960 DC-8 Japan Airlines.JPG
JAL's first jet, the Douglas DC-8, named Yoshino , in 1960
A Tupolev Tu-114 in Aeroflot/JAL livery, used between Japan and Europe via Moscow Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-114 JAL livery APM.jpg
A Tupolev Tu-114 in Aeroflot/JAL livery, used between Japan and Europe via Moscow

In 1960, the airline took delivery of its first jet, a Douglas DC-8 named Fuji, introducing jet service on the Tokyo-Honolulu-San Francisco route. JAL went on to operate a fleet of 51 DC-8s, retiring the last of the type in 1987. Fuji flew until 1974 and was then used as a maintenance training platform until 1989; its nose section was stored at Haneda Airport and eventually put on public display at the JAL Sky Museum in March 2014. [20]

JAL also began flying to Seattle and Hong Kong in 1960. At the end of 1961, JAL had transpolar flights from Tokyo to Seattle, Copenhagen, London, and Paris via Anchorage, Alaska, and to Los Angeles and San Francisco via Honolulu, Hawaii. [21]

Revenue Passenger-Kilometers, scheduled flights only, in millions
Source: ICAO Digest of Statistics for 1955, IATA World Air Transport Statistics 1960–2000

During the 1960s, JAL flew to many new cities, including Moscow, New York, and Busan. [8] [22] [23] DC-8 flights to Europe via Anchorage started in 1961; flights to Europe via India started in 1962, initially with Convair 880s.

By 1965, Japan Airlines was headquartered in the Tokyo Building in Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo. [24] By this time, over half of JAL's revenue was generated on transpacific routes to the United States, and the airline was lobbying the United States for fifth freedom rights to fly transatlantic routes from the East Coast. [25] The transpacific route was extended east from San Francisco to New York in November 1966 and to London in 1967; flights between San Francisco and London ended in December 1972.

Between 1967 and 1969, JAL had an agreement with Aeroflot to operate a joint service between Tokyo and Moscow using a Soviet Tupolev Tu-114. The flight crew included one JAL member, and the cabin crew had five members each from Aeroflot and JAL. The weekly flight started in April 1967; in May, the schedule was 10 hr 35 min Moscow to Tokyo and 11 hr 25 min to return. [ citation needed ]

In 1972, under the 45/47 system ( 45/47体制 , yongo-yonnana taisei), the so-called "aviation constitution" enacted by the Japanese government, JAL was granted flag carrier status to operate international routes. The airline was also designated to operate domestic trunk routes in competition with All Nippon Airways and Toa Domestic Airlines. [23]

The signing of a civil air transport agreement between China and Japan on 20 April 1974 caused the suspension of air routes between the Taiwan and Japan on 21 April. A new subsidiary, Japan Asia Airways, was established on 8 August 1975, and air services between the two countries were restored on 15 September. During the 1970s, the airline bought the Boeing 727, Boeing 747, and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 for its growing routes within Japan and to other countries. [22] [26]

Former Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita deplanes from a JAL McDonnell Douglas DC-10 while on a state visit to the United States in 1989 Noboru Takeshita full.jpg
Former Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita deplanes from a JAL McDonnell Douglas DC-10 while on a state visit to the United States in 1989

In the 1980s the airline performed special flights for the Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko of Japan, Pope John Paul II and for Japanese prime ministers, until the introduction of the dedicated government aircraft using two Boeing 747-400, operated as Japanese Air Force One and Japanese Air Force Two . During that decade, the airline introduced new Boeing 747-100SR, Boeing 747-SUD, and Boeing 767 jets to the fleet, and retired the Boeing 727s and Douglas DC-8s. [27]

In 1978, JAL started flights to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro via Anchorage and San Juan ; [28] the stopover was changed to Los Angeles in 1982 and to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1999. [29] Until 2009, the airline operated fifth-freedom flights between New York and São Paulo and between Vancouver and Mexico City. [30]

Deregulated era

Japan began considering airline deregulation in the late 1970s, with the government announcing the abandoning of the 45/47 system in 1985. [31] In 1987, Japan Airlines was completely privatised, and the other two airlines in Japan, All Nippon Airways and Japan Air System, were permitted to compete with JAL on domestic and international routes. Increased competition resulted in changes to the airline's corporate structure, and it was reorganised into three divisions: international passenger service, domestic passenger service, and cargo (including mail) service. [23] [27]

JAL McDonnell Douglas DC-10 in 1989 to 2002 livery MyPhotoAirliners-02.jpg
JAL McDonnell Douglas DC-10 in 1989 to 2002 livery

Japan Airlines began the 1990s with flights to evacuate Japanese citizens from Iraq before the start of the Gulf War. In October 1990, Japan Air Charter was established, [27] and in September 1996, an agreement with the Walt Disney Company made Japan Airlines the official airline of Tokyo Disneyland. JAL Express was established in April 1997, with Boeing 737 aircraft. [32] In the 1990s, the airline encountered further economic difficulties stemming from recessions in the United States and the United Kingdom, plus a domestic downturn. Following years of profit since 1986, the airline began to post operating losses in 1992. Cost-cutting, including the formation of the low-cost JAL Express domestic subsidiary and the transfer of tourist operations to JALways (the successor to Japan Air Charter), helped return the airline to profitability in 1999. [23]

In 1997, the airline flew Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to Peru to help negotiate in the Japanese embassy hostage crisis. Japan Airlines placed orders for Boeing 777s during the 1990s, allowing for fleet renewal. It was one of eight airlines participating in the Boeing 777 design process, shaping the design to their specifications. [33]

JAS merger

A Japan Air System (JAS) Airbus A300-600R with JAL logo on the fuselage JapanAirSystemA300withJALLogo.JPG
A Japan Air System (JAS) Airbus A300-600R with JAL logo on the fuselage

In 2001, Japan Air System and Japan Airlines agreed to merge; and on 2 October 2002, they established a new holding company called Japan Airlines System (日本航空システム, Nihon Kōkū Shisutemu), forming a new core of the JAL Group. Aircraft liveries were changed to match the design of the new JAL Group. At that time, the merged group of airlines was the sixth-largest in the world by passengers carried. [34]

On 1 April 2004, JAL changed its name to Japan Airlines International and JAS changed its name to Japan Airlines Domestic. JAS flight codes were changed to JAL flight codes, JAS check-in desks were refitted in JAL livery, and JAS aircraft were gradually repainted. On 26 June 2004, the parent company Japan Airlines System was renamed to Japan Airlines Corporation. [35] [36]

Following the merger, two companies operated under the JAL brand: Japan Airlines International (日本航空インターナショナル, Nihon Kōkū Intānashonaru) and Japan Airlines Domestic (日本航空ジャパン, Nihon Kōkū Japan). Japan Airlines Domestic had primary responsibility for JAL's large network of intra-Japan flights, while JAL International operated both international and trunk domestic flights. On 1 October 2006, Japan Airlines International and Japan Airlines Domestic merged into a single brand, Japan Airlines International. [35] [37]

The airline applied to join Oneworld on 25 October 2005. Japan Airlines claimed that its Oneworld membership would be in the best interests of the airline's plans to further develop the airline group and its strong commitment to providing the very best to its customers. [38] Japan Airlines, together with Malév and Royal Jordanian, joined the alliance on 1 April 2007. [39]

On 1 April 2008, JAL merged the operations of its subsidiary Japan Asia Airways (JAA) into JAL mainline operations. JAA had operated all JAL group flights between Japan and Taiwan between 1975 and 2008 as a separate entity due to the special political status of Taiwan. [40]

Restructure and bankruptcy

JAL Boeing 737-800 short-haul airliner JAL 737-800 JA302J.jpg
JAL Boeing 737-800 short-haul airliner
Japan Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-11 Japan Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-11 Monty.jpg
Japan Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-11

In 2009, Japan Airlines suffered steep financial losses, despite remaining Asia's largest airline by revenue. [41] As a result, the airline embarked on staff cuts and route cutbacks in an effort to reduce costs. [41] [42] The carrier also received ¥100 billion through capital injection and credit from the Japanese government as part of the proposed bankruptcy. [43] In September 2009, Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism formed a task force aimed at aiding a corporate turnaround at JAL, which examined various cost-cutting and strategic partnership proposals. [44]

One proposal considered was to merge JAL with All Nippon Airways (ANA), which would create a single larger international airline and replace Japan Airlines International; however, media reports suggested that this proposal would be opposed by ANA given its comparatively better financial performance as an independent carrier. [44] The task force also examined possible partnerships with foreign carriers. [44]

After weeks of speculation, JAL applied for protection under the Corporate Rehabilitation Law (the Japanese equivalent of Administration in the United Kingdom or a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in the United States) on 19 January 2010. JAL would receive a ¥300 billion cash injection and have debts worth ¥730 billion waived, in exchange for which it will cut its capital to zero, cut unprofitable routes and reduce its workforce by 15,700 employees—a third of its 47,000 total. [43] JAL's main creditors (Mizuho Corporate Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation) originally objected to the bankruptcy declaration, but changed their positions after the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation of Japan recommended court protection, according to a senior bank official. [45] [46] Shares of JAL were delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange on 20 February 2010. [47] [48] At a time, its stock was considered one of "bluest of blue chips" of Japan. [43] At the time, the bankruptcy was the largest Japanese bankruptcy involving a non-financial company and the fourth largest in Japan's history. [43]

Kazuo Inamori, founder of Kyocera and KDDI, took over as CEO of JAL. Transport minister Seiji Maehara personally visited Kyocera headquarters in late 2009 to persuade Inamori to accept the position; task force leader Shinjiro Takagi believed that appointing a proven entrepreneur CEO was necessary to fix the various problems at JAL. [49] Japan Air Commuter president Masaru Onishi was promoted to president of JAL. [50]

In May, JAL began to see an increase in its passenger numbers by 1.1% year-on-year. [51] In August, it was reported that JAL would cut 19,133 jobs from its workforce of 47,000 by the end of March 2015 – whilst also increasing capacity – in an attempt to make the business viable. [52]

Rivalry between Delta and American

JAL Boeing 777-300 (JA8941) with special Oneworld livery JA8941-oneworld-01.jpg
JAL Boeing 777-300 (JA8941) with special Oneworld livery

Although JAL ultimately exited bankruptcy while remaining in the Oneworld alliance, JAL was seriously considering accepting a strategic investment from Delta Air Lines and joining the SkyTeam alliance during the period between September 2009 and February 2010. [53] JAL also had talks with Skyteam members Air France-KLM and Korean Air regarding their potential involvement. [41] [54]

The Delta deal was favored by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism because Delta had an extensive global network and had the largest Japanese operation of any foreign airline, which it had inherited through its merger with Northwest Airlines. [55] MLITT also supported a transaction with Air France-KLM because it was a "healthier company" than American. [56]

American planned to team up with Oneworld alliance members British Airways and Qantas to make a joint offer to recapitalise JAL. [57] British Airways said that it was attempting to persuade JAL to remain part of Oneworld rather than aligning itself with Delta and SkyTeam, [58] while American CEO Gerard Arpey said that American and Oneworld remained committed to a partnership with Japan Airlines, as long as it remained a major international carrier, [59] and reiterated his encouragement for JAL to stay with Oneworld during ceremonies to welcome Mexicana into the alliance. [60]

In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun on 1 January 2010, JAL president Haruka Nishimatsu stated his preference in forming a partnership with Delta over American, [61] and the Yomiuri Shimbun reported shortly thereafter that JAL and the Japanese government-backed Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation would likely choose to form a business and capital tie-up with Delta, as part of which JAL would enter SkyTeam and reduce its international flight operations in favor of code-share agreements with Delta, and that American Airlines had begun procedures to end negotiations with JAL. [62] Both JAL and American denied the report. [63] [64] The Wall Street Journal then reported that American Airlines raised its JAL investment offer by $300 million, to $1.4 billion, and in separate comments to the press, Delta president Ed Bastian said that Delta was "willing and able to raise additional capital through third-party resources." [65]

JAL was one of the largest Boeing 747-400 operators (the other being British Airways and Singapore Airlines). The last 747 was retired in early 2011 as part of its restructuring program, ending 41 years of 747 service. Japan Airlines B747-446 (JA8914) in JAL's 2002 livery.jpg
JAL was one of the largest Boeing 747-400 operators (the other being British Airways and Singapore Airlines). The last 747 was retired in early 2011 as part of its restructuring program, ending 41 years of 747 service.

After JAL filed for bankruptcy, there were further media reports that JAL would leave Oneworld in favor of SkyTeam, [66] but JAL president Masaru Onishi said on 1 February that the new JAL leadership was "seriously reviewing the issue from scratch, without being influenced by previous discussions," and its decision on an alliance partner would be made soon. [67]

On 7 February, several news outlets reported that JAL would decide to keep its alliance with American Airlines and end talks with Delta. Inamori and ETIC officials, according to the reports, decided that switching alliances from Oneworld to Skyteam would be too risky and could hinder JAL's ability to turn around quickly. [68] Two days later, JAL officially announced that it would strengthen its partnership with American, including a joint application for antitrust immunity on transpacific routes. The airline would also fortify its relationship with other partners in the Oneworld alliance. [69]

Post-bankruptcy developments

JAL emerged from bankruptcy protection in March 2011. In July, ETIC selected Nomura Holdings, Daiwa Securities, Mitsubishi UFJ, Morgan Stanley, Mizuho Securities, SMBC, and Nikko Securities to underwrite the sale of its equity stake in JAL, without specifying amounts or dates. [70] On 6 January 2012, JAL announced its intent to relist its shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in an initial public offering (IPO) of up to ¥1 trillion, which would be the largest offering in Japan in more than a year. [71] The airline completed its IPO on the 1st section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TYO : 9201) on 19 September 2012. The Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation of Japan sold all its holdings (96.5%) in JAL for ¥650 billion, greater than its ¥350 billion investment in 2010. Though it was oversubscribed several times, the post-IPO increase of the stock was close to 1%.[ citation needed ]

Following its exit from bankruptcy protection, JAL began several new partnerships within the Oneworld alliance. The transpacific joint venture between JAL and American commenced in April 2011. [72] JAL formed Jetstar Japan, a low-cost carrier joint venture with Qantas subsidiary Jetstar Airways, in July. [73] In 2012, JAL and British Airways parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) submitted applications to the Japanese government and European Union respectively in seeking a joint venture business operation for flights between Japan and Europe. [74] Finnair applied to join the JV with IAG in July 2013, in conjunction with JAL starting new nonstop service to Helsinki. [75]

On June 18, 2021, Japan airlines announced it had conducted the first flight with loading 2 different types of Sustainable Aviation Fuel produced domestically in Japan. [76] The flight was directed from Tokyo (Haneda) to Sapporo (Shin-Chitose) and used 3,132 liters (9.1% mixing ratio) of SAF sourced from wood chips and from microalgae. [77] It was the first flight in the world to use biofuel derived from gasified wood chips [78] and to mix two different types of biofuels. [77]

Corporate affairs and identity


Subsidiaries and Affiliates of Japan Airlines. JAL Group Organization.svg
Subsidiaries and Affiliates of Japan Airlines.

In addition to its operations under the JAL name, the airline owns five domestic airlines which feed or supplement mainline JAL flights: [80]

Former subsidiaries:

JALUX Inc., established in 1962, is the airline's procurement business which handles various work for the company, including the JAL SELECTION merchandise and in-flight meals and refreshments, supplies for Blue Sky and JAL-DFS shops, aircraft fuel components, cabin services, and in-flight duty-free. JALUX merged with JAS Trading on 1 January 2004, to unify support operations for the JAL group. [81] [82] [83]

JAL Cargo is the brand of the airline group's freight service and is a member of the WOW cargo alliance with these products: J Speed, General Cargo, and Dangerous Goods. [84] In the fiscal year ended 31 March 2009, the cargo division carried 500,779 tonnes of freight domestically and 627,213 tonnes of freight internationally. [85]

On 1 April 2011, the airline changed its trade name from Japan Airlines International Co., Ltd (株式会社日本航空インターナショナル, Kabushiki-gaisha Nihon Kōkū Intānashonaru) to Japan Airlines Co., Ltd (日本航空株式会社, Nihon Kōkū Kabushiki-gaisha). [86] [87] in the first quarter of 2019, JAL launches its low cost carrier, ZIPAIR Tokyo, which will focus on medium to long-haul destinations. It is estimated to commence operation in summer 2020.


Japan Airlines headquarters in Shinagawa, Tokyo Nomura Fudosan Tennozu Bldg.JPG
Japan Airlines headquarters in Shinagawa, Tokyo

The headquarters, the Nomura Fudosan Tennozu Building (野村不動産天王洲ビル, Nomura Fudōsan Tennōzu Biru), is located on Tennōzu Isle in Higashi Shinagawa, Shinagawa, Tokyo. [88] [89] The 26-floor building was a project of the Kajima Corporation. [90] The building, which also has two underground levels, has a land area of 11,670.4 square metres (125,619 sq ft) and a floor area of 82,602.11 square metres (889,121.7 sq ft). [91]

Several divisions of JAL, including JALPAK, [92] JAL Aero-Consulting, [93] and JAL Hotels are located in the building. [94] The building also houses the Japan office of American Airlines. [95] It is also known as the JAL Building (JALビルディング, JAL Birudingu), the Japan Airlines Headquarters, and the Shinagawa Kyodo Building.

When JAL was originally established in 1951, its headquarters were in Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo. [96] By 1965, Japan Airlines was headquartered in the Tokyo Building in Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo. [24] [97] The Yomiuri Shimbun stated that because Japan Airlines worked closely with the Japanese government, people mockingly referred to the Tokyo Building as "a branch office of the transport ministry." [98]

On 28 June 1996, construction was completed on the JAL Building. On 27 July 1996, JAL moved its headquarters into the JAL Building. The Flight Operation Center at the JAL Building began on 20 September 1996. [99] A holding company for JAL and Japan Airlines System, a carrier merging into JAL, was established on 2 October 2002; the head office of that company, Japan Airlines System (JALS) (日本航空システム, Nihon Kōkū Shisutemu), was in 2-15-1 Kōnan in Shinagawa Intercity, Minato, Tokyo. On 11 August 2003, the headquarters of JAS moved from Haneda Maintenance Center 1 to the JAL Building. On 25 November 2003, the JALS headquarters moved to the JAL Building. [100] [101] Originally the JAL Building was co-owned by Japan Airlines and Mitsubishi Trading Co.; they co-owned a subsidiary that owned the JAL Building. In 2004, the building was to be sold to Nomura Real Estate for 65 billion yen. The contract date was 1 December 2004, and the handover date was 18 March 2005. [91]

The JAL Subsidiary JALUX Inc. at one time had its headquarters in the JAL Building. [102] One group of employees moved out of the building on 26 July 2010, and one moved out on 2 August 2010. [103]


Logo and basic liveries

A Japan Airlines McDonnell-Douglas MD-81 in the former "Arc of the Sun" livery and with a Unicef logo JapanAirlinesMD81JA8554.jpg
A Japan Airlines McDonnell-Douglas MD-81 in the former "Arc of the Sun" livery and with a Unicef logo
JAL Boeing 787-8 in the current "tsurumaru" livery at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow Japan Airlines Boeing 787-846 Dreamliner Kustov.jpg
JAL Boeing 787-8 in the current "tsurumaru" livery at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow

The JAL livery is called the tsurumaru (鶴丸) or "crane circle." It is an image of a Japanese red-crown crane with its wings extended in full flight. The Tsurumaru JAL logo was created in 1958 by Jerry Huff, the creative director at Botsford, Constantine and Gardner of San Francisco, which had been the advertising agency for Japan Airlines from its earliest days. JAL had used several logos up until 1958. When the airline arranged to buy new Douglas DC-8s, it decided to create a new official logo for the inauguration of its jet service worldwide.

In the creation of the logo, Huff was inspired by the personal crests of Samurai families. In a book he'd been given, We Japanese, he found pages of crests, including the crane. On his choice of the crane, he writes: "I had faith that it was the perfect symbol for Japan Airlines. I found that the Crane myth was all positive—it mates for life (loyalty), and flies high for miles without tiring (strength.)" [104]

The tsurumaru livery was in use until 2002, when it was replaced by a livery called the "Arc of the Sun." The livery featured the motif of a rising sun on a creamy parchment-colored background. [105]

JAL is a strong supporter of UNICEF and expresses its support by having a "We Support UNICEF" logo on each aircraft. [106]

Following its corporate restructuring, Japan Airlines returned to the classic tsurumaru logo starting on 1 April 2011. [107] A Boeing 767-300 was the last remaining aircraft that had the "Arc of the Sun" livery until it was retired in January 2016.

Special liveries

JAL is known for adopting special liveries. A Boeing 747 (JA8908) carried an Adidas soccer livery in 2002. [108] [ citation needed ] Another Boeing 747 (JA8907) was the Matsui Jet, featuring the famous Japanese baseball player Hideki Matsui in 2003. One of the airline's Boeing 767-300 (JA8253) was the Expo 2005 aircraft.

Various aircraft in the JAL fleet also carry a Yokoso Japan logo supporting the Visit Japan campaign, in various forms. During late 2005, Japan Airlines began using a Boeing 777 (JA8941), featuring Japanese actor Shingo Katori on one side, and television series Saiyuki , along with its main character "Goku" on the other side.

JAL has also been known for its liveries featuring Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, as it is the official airline of the Tokyo Disney Resort. It sponsors the attraction Star Jets (not related to past Star Jets fleet with the old tsurumaru livery), which features a variation of the current livery on the ride vehicles. At one time there were more than six widebody aircraft painted with the special liveries. [109]

Some Boeing 747s of JAL had also been painted with tropical-influenced liveries along with Reso'cha titles. [110] These aircraft were typically used by JALways on charter flights to holiday destinations in the Pacific, [23] such as Hawaii. Reso'cha was a marketing abbreviation for Resort Charter, and were formerly known as JAL Super Resort Express.

JAL Eco Jet JAL B777-200 JA8984 ITM 20080920-001.jpg
JAL Eco Jet

In April 2007, JAL debuted a Boeing 777-300 (JA8941, since moved to JA752J) with a special Oneworld livery to promote the airlines's entry to the global airline alliance. [111] Previously this aircraft carried the Shingo Katori and the Saiyuki television livery. [112]

JAL repainted a Boeing 777-200 (JA8984) in 2008 and a Boeing 777-300ER (JA731J) [113] in 2009 to have a green rather than red arc on its tail, along with a green origami airplane on the fuselage, and named them the Eco Jet, to highlight the company's efforts to reduce the environmental impact of commercial aviation. [114] Following the brand image change to the 3rd Tsurumaru livery, JAL redesigned the 2 Eco Jet liveries. JA8984's livery was removed in April 2019 prior to its retirement in December 2019 [115] while JA731J's livery was moved onto JA734J (another JAL 777-300ER), which continues flying the Eco Jet livery as of March 2020. [116]

In 2009, JAL repainted JA8941 again, as well as a JTA 737-400 (JA8933) to promote Kobukuro and their new album Calling as well as a live concert tour in Okinawa and around Japan. This livery was released officially on 30 July 2009. [117] [118] [119] It has since then been replaced with a special Doraemon livery.[ citation needed ]

On 4 September 2010, in conjunction with the Boku no Miteiru Fūkei album, JAL and Arashi (which one of the songs, "Movin' On", is used for a commercial) introduced a new livery featuring the five members of Arashi in the aircraft; the first flight was on the day after on 5 September. [120]

On 3 August 2017, JAL announced a new livery on board an Embraer 190 of subsidiary J-Air, in commemoration of the new Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride in Universal Studios Japan. [121]

Starting from April 2019, JAL has also introduced the 'Tokyo 2020, Fly For it!' series of special liveries, in commemoration of the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics and featuring the two mascots of the 2020 Olympics. There have been 2 jetliners in JAL fleet painted so far, namely JA773J (a Boeing 777-200, painted April 2019) [122] and JA601J (a Boeing 767-300ER, painted July 2019) [123]


In 1959, Japan Airlines adopted a logo which is a crane known as the 'Tsuru' crane. Landor Associates created JAL's brand identity in 1989. A fusion of the JAL letters with a red square and grey band feature on the fuselage. The 'Tsuru' crane was retained on the tail but with a new stylised JAL lettering incorporated within it. After Japan Airlines and Japan Air System merged, the Tokyo office of Landor and JAL worked together again to create a new brand identity. Landor devised a livery referred to as the "Arc of the Sun". The 2000s rebranding began in April 2002 and was completed in April 2004. The brand identity firm designed 300,000 specific items for JAL. [124] The JAL acronym remained, but it was changed to include a curved bar, which replaced the simple red square and gray rectangle used from 1989. The curved bar was likened to a samurai sword. The tail now featured a quarter sun outlined in silver. JAL changed its branding again on 1 April 2011, reverting to the original 1959 brand, with slight modifications. [125] [126] The livery featured the tsurumaru back on the vertical stabilizer and the full name above the windows, but near the cockpit. Repainting was completed in January 2016.


Japan Airlines hubs map JAL Hubs.gif
Japan Airlines hubs map

Japan Airlines serves 60 domestic destinations and 39 international destinations in Asia, the Americas, Europe and Oceania, excluding codeshare agreements. [127] [128] The airline's international hubs are Tokyo's Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport, Osaka's Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport. Japan Airlines and its subsidiaries currently operate over 4,500 international flights and 26,000 domestic flights monthly. [127] [129]

In the fiscal year ended 31 March 2009, the airline introduced or increased services on ten international routes, including between Tokyo (Narita) and New York City, and between Osaka (Kansai) and Shanghai; and it ceased operations on four international routes, including between Tokyo (Narita) and Xi'an, and between Osaka (Kansai) and Qingdao. Domestically, JAL suspended 14 routes, including between Sapporo and Okinawa. Additionally, the airline expanded codesharing alliance with fellow Oneworld partners like American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Finnair, and other airlines, including Air France, China Eastern and Jetstar. [130]

In the early years, Narita International Airport had been the main hub of international and freight flights. Nowadays, Haneda Airport is becoming an international hub because of its close proximity to the Tokyo metropolis, and the heavy expansion occurring there.

Codeshare agreements

Japan Airlines has codeshare agreements with the following airlines: [131] [132]

Joint ventures

In addition to the above codeshares, Japan Airlines has entered into joint ventures with the following airlines:


As of July 2021, Japan Airlines operates the following aircraft: [152] [153] [154] [155]

Japan Airlines fleet
AircraftIn serviceOrdersPassengersNotes
Airbus A350-900 1171294263369To replace Boeing 777 fleet.
-900 series to be used for domestic flights and -1000 series to be used for international flights.
Airbus A350-1000 13 [156] TBA
Boeing 737-800 4820145165
Boeing 767-300 242219261
Boeing 767-300ER 2924175199
30207237Equipped with regional configuration.
Boeing 777-200ER 54240154236To be retired by March 2023 and replaced by Airbus A350 XWB family. [157]
Boeing 777-300ER 1384940147244To be retired by March 2023 and replaced by Airbus A350 XWB Family. [157]
Includes the first Boeing 777-300ER prototype (JA732J). [158]
Boeing 787-8 2730156186
658227291Equipped with domestic configuration.
Boeing 787-9 224435116195
Mitsubishi SpaceJet M90 32 [159] TBADelivery date uncertain. [160]

As the Japanese government plans to add more slots at Tokyo's Haneda Airport by 2020 (in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics), Japan Airlines intends to order more widebodies for growth in 2018 or 2019: it could exercise its 25 options on Airbus A350s on top of its 31 firm orders, due for delivery from 2019, and study others such as the proposed Boeing New Midsize Airplane or the 787-10 to add to its 787-9 with 10 remaining to be delivered. [161]

Japan Airlines operates a mixture of narrow-body and wide-body aircraft. The airline provides economy class service on all routes; business class (J) service with larger seats in the cabin front on most major domestic routes; premium economy on some international routes; business class on most long-haul and some short-haul international routes; and first class on some long-haul and domestic routes.

On 5 December 2017, JAL announced it had invested $10 million in the aircraft manufacturer Boom Supersonic, which is currently developing a new supersonic commercial airliner capable of seating up to 55 passengers. In exchange for its funding, JAL will be able to pre-order up to 20 Boom aircraft. [162]


JAL Cargo was once a freighter airline operating for JAL. It ended dedicated freighter aircraft operations in October 2010 after more than 30 years of service. It operated both propeller and jet aircraft through the years, most recently Boeing 747-400s (including aircraft converted from passenger to freighter configuration) and Boeing 767-300Fs. Limited cargo activity is now maintained through JAL's passenger aircraft lower deck holds.

Former fleet

A Boeing 727-100 at Tokyo's Haneda Airport in 1964 Boeing 727-46, Japan Airlines (JAL) JP6839064.jpg
A Boeing 727-100 at Tokyo's Haneda Airport in 1964
JAL Boeing 747-100BSR/SUD with stretched upper deck in 1987 Japanese jal B747 old.JPG
JAL Boeing 747-100BSR/SUD with stretched upper deck in 1987
JAL Cargo Boeing 747-400BCF just after takeoff from London Heathrow Airport in 2007 Jal.cargo.b747-400.ja8909.arp.jpg
JAL Cargo Boeing 747-400BCF just after takeoff from London Heathrow Airport in 2007
A Convair 880 at Los Angeles International Airport in 1964 Convair CV-880, Japan Airlines (JAL) JP6398327.jpg
A Convair 880 at Los Angeles International Airport in 1964
A Douglas DC-8-53 at New York in 1970 JA8012 DC-8-53 Japan Air Lines JFK 09JUL70 (5580803202).jpg
A Douglas DC-8-53 at New York in 1970

Japan Airlines has previously used the following aircraft types: [163] [164]

Japan Airlines historical fleet
Airbus A300-600R 2220062011Taken over from merged Japan Air System
Beechcraft H18 [165] Un­known1969Un­knownUsed for pilot training [166]
Boeing 727-100 Un­known19651988
Boeing 737-400 719952003
Boeing 747-100 719702002Launch customer
11977Converted into freighters and transferred to JAL Cargo
Boeing 747-100SF 119771992
Boeing 747SR-100 919732005Launch customer.
11985Crashed as flight JL123
Boeing 747SR-100/SUD 219862006
Boeing 747-200B 2319712007
21973Converted into freighters and transferred to JAL Cargo
Boeing 747-200F 819912008
Boeing 747-200SF 319742007
Boeing 747-300 1619832009
Boeing 747-400 2819902011
62005Converted into freighters and transferred to JAL Cargo
Boeing 747-400BCF 620062010
Boeing 747-400D 819912011Launch customer
Boeing 747-400F 219912011
Boeing 767-200 419852011
Boeing 767-300ERF 320072010
Boeing 777-200 819962021 [167] [168]
7Taken over from merged Japan Air System
Boeing 777-300 719982021 [167] [168]
Convair 880 919611971
Dassault Falcon 20 Un­knownUn­knownUn­known[ citation needed ]
Douglas DC-3 119511951Operated invitational flights for three days on 27 August 1951
Douglas DC-4 219521964
Douglas DC-6B 1019541969Operated the airline's inaugural international flight
Some aircraft were converted into freighters
Douglas DC-7C 519581965Some aircraft were converted into freighters
Douglas DC-8-30 419601975
Douglas DC-8-50 1519621982
11972Crashed as flight JL471
Douglas DC-8-60 3119681988
11977Crashed as flight JL715
11982Crashed as flight JL350
Douglas DC-8-60F 419681988
11977Crashed as flight JL8054
Martin 2-0-2 21951Un­knownOperated the airline's inaugural scheduled flight
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40 2019762005
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 1019932004
McDonnell Douglas MD-81 1120062010Taken over from merged Japan Air System
McDonnell Douglas MD-87 820062008Taken over from merged Japan Air System
McDonnell Douglas MD-90-30 1620062013Taken over from merged Japan Air System
NAMC YS-11 119691970Used for postal service
1Used for passenger service


Cabin classes

New cabin

JAL Suite First Class JAL First Class Suite 777-300ER.JPG
JAL Suite First Class

JAL introduced new international First and Executive Class seats: the JAL Suite for First Class, featured a seat 20 percent roomier than the Skysleeper Solo in a 1-2-1 configuration; and the JAL Shell Flat Neo Seat for Executive Class Seasons, a slightly revised version of the original Shell Flat Seat, with a wider seat; expanded center console; and the world's first in-flight photo art exhibit, Sky Gallery. These seats, along with the Premium Economy seats, debuted on Japan Airlines Flights 5 and 6, operated on the Tokyo–New York route on 1 August 2008. It expanded to the Tokyo–San Francisco route on 13 September 2008, and the Tokyo–Chicago and Los Angeles in 2009. [169] Since 31 October 2010, the new cabin is also used on flights from Narita to Jakarta, being the only Asian destination for which the new cabin is used. [170]

In 2013, JAL debuted new versions of its economy and premium economy seats called Sky Premium and Sky Wider Economy respectively. The Sky Premium seats, found on selected 777-300s and soon 787s, feature the same width as the Sky Shell seats but with a 4" larger seat pitch of 42" and a 3" larger recline of up to 10" compared to a 38" pitch and 7" recline on the Sky Shell seats. The Sky Wider Economy seats, found on select 767's and select 777-300s, feature slimmer seats with 4" more legroom, and another inch of width totaling up to 35" of seat pitch, and a 19" width compared to the 31" pitch and 18" width of standard economy seats, plus a larger PTV screen of up to 11". The newer 787s will feature a new version of the Sky Wider seats called Sky Wider II, which will feature 5" more legroom and 2" more width totaling up to 36" of seat pitch and a 20" width in a less dense 2-4-2 setup instead of the 3-3-3 setup commonly used in a 787's economy cabin. [171]

In premium cabins, JAL introduced fully lie-flat seats, branded as Sky Suite in Business Class cabin and enhanced First Suite seats in First Class cabin. The Sky Suite is in a staggered 2-3-2 setup that offer direct aisle access to all business class passengers. These can be found on all 13 of JAL's Boeing 777-300ER aircraft (named SS7), 10 of JAL's 787-8 aircraft (named SS8) and 8 of JAL's 787-9 aircraft (named SS9). Later in 2015, JAL introduced a new version of Sky Suite, called Sky Suite II, in order to fit lie-flat seats on its new international 767-300ER fleet (named SS6), in a 1-2-1 setup. Since the seats are less wide than the original Sky Suite, SS6 aircraft are often seen on shorter international routes, like inter-Asian routes and Hawaiian routes. [172] In 2016, as JAL was upgrading its Boeing 777-200ER fleet used on selected inter-Asian and Hawaiian flights, JAL introduced a third version of Sky Suite, called Sky Suite III, which is a lie-flat reverse-herringbone arranged seat. This seat is equipped on JAL's most Boeing 777-200ER fleet (named SS2) and 5 of JAL's Boeing 787-9 fleet (named SS9 II) in a 1-2-1 setup. Like SS6 aircraft, SS2 and SS9 II aircraft are operating on shorter international routes. [173] All flights equipped with lie-flat J seats may be accessed here: for Sky Suite flights; for Sky Suite II flights; for Sky Suite III flights.

International services

JAL Executive Class Seasons Shell Flat seat JAL Executive Class Seasons.jpg
JAL Executive Class Seasons Shell Flat seat

The airline's international services with existing cabins feature the fully reclining JAL First Class JAL Suite; JAL Business Class JAL Sky Suite, JAL Sky Suite II, JAL Sky Suite III, JAL Shell Flat NEO, JAL Skyluxe Seat or JAL Skyrecliner; JAL Premium Economy JAL Sky Premium; and JAL Economy Class JAL Economy Class Seat or JAL Sky Wider. [174] The First Class Skysleeper Solo reclines fully and features genuine leather upholstery from Poltrona Frau of Italy. [175] The Executive Class Seasons Shell Flat Seat is a lie-flat design with the ability to lower armrests to the same height as the seat when reclined. [176] Premium Economy is a recent addition, it was first introduced on the Tokyo–London route on 1 December 2007. [177] It features a shell-shaped seat that allows passengers to recline by sliding their seat forward, without having the seat in front intrude when reclining. [178]

Japan domestic services

On Japan domestic services, the airline offers First Class, Executive (Business) Class Class J and Economy Class. [179] The First Class seat is made from premium genuine leather with a seat width of about 53 cm (21 in) and a seat pitch of about 130 cm (51 in). [180] Class J features ergonomically designed reclining seats that promote relaxation by allowing passengers to move naturally and maintain a balanced posture. [181] JAL plans to begin refitting its domestic fleet with leather seats and in-flight wireless internet service from May 2014. [182]

In-flight entertainment


JAL Economy cabin with MAGIC systems Japan Airlines 777-200ER Economy cabin.jpg
JAL Economy cabin with MAGIC systems

MAGIC, JAL's in-flight entertainment system, supported by the JAL Mooove! (formerly Entertainment Network), [183] features the latest hit movies and videos, games and audio programs. There are six generations of the MAGIC system: MAGIC-I, MAGIC-II, MAGIC-III, MAGIC-IV, MAGIC-V and the new MAGIC-VI. Introduced on 1 December 2007, the MAGIC-III system provides Audio/Video on Demand (AVOD) entertainment to all passengers. The number of movie, music, video and game channels on MAGIC-III was doubled from 57 to 130 by 2008; and it is installed on all seats on Boeing 767-300ER, 777-200ER and 777-300ER aircraft. [184] Aircraft with MAGIC-I and MAGIC-II have movies that automatically start when the AVOD system is turned on—once the aircraft reaches cruise level—and economy class passengers can tune in to watch the movie in progress; and all movies restart upon completion. Executive and First Class passengers have full AVOD control. MAGIC systems also have JAL's duty-free shopping catalogue, including flight crew recommendations and a video of specials available on the flight. [185] MAGIC-V will feature mostly the same entertainment as MAGIC-III, but with a touch screen controller, along with a handset. There will be USB ports for iPod connectivity, and an easier to control handset. (introduced on selected Boeing 767-300ER routes). The MAGIC-III system is used on internationally configured Boeing 767-300 with Skyluxe Seat, older internationally configured Boeing 767-300ER with Skyluxe Seat, all Boeing 777-200ER, older Boeing 777-300ER with Skysleeper Solo/Suite first class and Shell Flat Seat/Neo Business class. The MAGIC-IV is used on internationally configured Boeing 737-800s, along with a newer look of Skyluxe Seat. It uses 9-inch touchscreens by Panasonic SFX. The MAGIC-V system is deploying across the fleet, with selected Boeing 767-300ERs (Skyrecliner seat) and B787-8 (Shell Flat Neo seat) getting the IFE. Followed by refurbished Boeing 777-300ERs (all aircraft) and selected Boeing 767-300ER aircraft (including those with Skyluxe seat) will get the MAGIC-V along with new seats in all classes. The MAGIC-VI is installed on selected Boeing 787-8s and 777-300s. [186]

Aircraft cameras

In-flight nose camera view Onboard JAL in-flight nose camera.jpg
In-flight nose camera view

On most JAL international flights, on-plane cameras are available, either on the wings, the belly or on the tail. When the aircraft is in the pushback; taxi; takeoff; ascent; descent; stacking; landing; and docking phases of flight, all TV's in the cabin automatically tune into the video camera outside the aircraft to provide "Pilot Vision" to the passengers. However, new entertainment systems do not have them anymore (with the exception of the airline's new A350, which does have cameras). [187]

Additional media

Skyward, the airline group's inflight magazine, reflecting the company motto of "Dream Skyward". Prior to the merger with JAS, JAL's inflight magazine was called Winds. [188] All of the JAL Group magazines are provided by JALUX. [189]

In a promotion, between 1 June and 31 August 2006, all Executive and First Class passengers would be offered use of Nintendo DS Lites specially manufactured for air travel, with the wireless capabilities removed in order to conform with airline safety standards. [190]

JAL Executive Class Seasons in-flight meal JAL Executive Class meal.jpg
JAL Executive Class Seasons in-flight meal

After a trial run at Haneda airport, JAL announced it will offer selected passengers a VR experience using the Samsung Gear VR and the Samsung S8. Passengers will be able to experience specially curated programming on Germany, Argentina, the Nagoya fireworks and more programs at a later date. [191]

In-flight catering

Japan Airlines offers meals on intercontinental routes, depending on the cabin class, destination and flight length. Western and Japanese menu selections are typically offered, including seasonal menu selections varied by destination. [192] [193] The airline has worked with high-profile chefs, including Fumiko Kono, Shinichi Sato, Koji Shimomura, Naoki Uchiyama, Chikara Yamada, Seiji Yamammoto and Hiroki Yoshitake in the creation of its menus and in 2016, launched a children's menu created by Kono, Yamada, Yamammoto, and Yosuke Suga. [194] [195]

Sakura Lounge

Sakura Lounge in Narita International Airport Terminal 2 Narita-sakura-lounge.jpg
Sakura Lounge in Narita International Airport Terminal 2

Sakura Lounge, named after the Japanese word for cherry blossom, is Japan Airlines' signature lounge. In addition, the airline also operates the following international, including First Class Lounge, Sakura Lounge annex and JAL Lounge; and domestic lounges, including Diamond Premier Lounge and JAL Lounge. Access to the lounges depend on the class of travel or the membership status in the JAL Mileage Bank or JAL Global Club. [196] [197] [198]

Former bus services

Circa the 1990s, JAL previously operated buses from Frankfurt Airport to Düsseldorf to serve customers in that German city, [199] as well as buses from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City to Fort Lee, New Jersey. [200]

JAL Mileage Bank

JAL Mileage Bank.png
Former JAL Mileage Bank logo
JAL Global Club.png
JAL Global Club logo

JAL Mileage Bank (JMB) is the travel rewards programme of JAL Group, including Japan Airlines, JALways, JAL Express, Japan Transocean Air, Japan Air Commuter, Hokkaido Air System and Ryukyu Air Commuter. The programme's airline partners also include JAL's Oneworld partners, as well as Air France, China Eastern Airlines and Emirates. For the airline's most frequent flyers, JMB offers Fly on Programme, a frequent flyer service status programme; and JAL Global Club (JGC), an exclusive club designed for experienced travelers. [201] [202]

The Fly on Programme is the frequent flyer service status programme and is divided into four membership levels, Crystal, Sapphire, JGC Premier and Diamond, based on the member's travel in the last calendar year.

The JAL Global Club is an exclusive club dedicated to catering to JAL Group's most experienced and valuable travelers.

Incidents and accidents

Japan Airlines has been the focus of several television programs in Japan over the years, most being dramas revolving around cabin attendants. Attention Please was a drama in 1970 that followed the story of a young girl who joins JAL to be a cabin attendant while overcoming many difficulties. This show was remade in 2006 again as Attention Please starring Aya Ueto who joins a class of cabin attendant nominees and later graduates. Most of the action of the story of the 2006 series takes place at JAL's Haneda flight operations headquarters. The series has had two specials since the original, marking the main character's transition into JAL's international operations. [203]

During the 1980s, JAL was also the focus of another drama entitled Stewardess Monogatari which featured another young girl during training to be a JAL cabin attendant. [204] During the 1990s, JAL featured several commercials with celebrities, including Janet Jackson who danced and sang to a backdrop of JAL 747s on rotation at LAX. [205]

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