Japan Airlines Slashes February Domestic Schedule Further

JAL, which had seen domestic demand start recovering in the 2021 December quarter, has cut more than 7,000 domestic flights in the month of February.

Credit: Joe Pries

Japan Airlines (JAL) has made an additional reduction of its domestic schedule for this month, slashing 1,412 more flights.

The carrier is reacting to continued COVID-19 restrictions in place in Japan as the country attempts to contain the spread of the omicron variant. The additional flight reductions will come between Feb. 8 and Feb. 28.

JAL has now cut a total of 5,654 domestic flights for the Feb. 8-28 period, bringing its total domestic-flight reductions for February to 7,633, meaning JAL will operate 32% fewer flights during the month than it originally planned.

The canceled flights represent a reversal in fortunes for JAL’s domestic network. In a report issued by the airline this week covering the nine-month period ending Dec. 31, 2021, JAL said: “Domestic passenger demand recovered robustly after October, compared with the [April through September period] when demand was sluggish due to a surge of new [COVID-19] infections and repeated declarations [by the Japanese government] of a state of emergency.”  

JAL added that, in the current environment, “domestic passenger [demand] would recover rapidly if COVID infection [rates] slow down.”

Meanwhile, JAL’s international capacity was down 59.4% for the nine-month period ending Dec. 31 compared to the same period in 2019. Demand to the Americas held up the best, with capacity down 34.9% versus 2019 for the period. That is in stark contrast to Asia capacity, which was down 67.4% for the nine months versus 2019. China capacity was down 93.4% and Hawaii/Guam capacity was down 97.7%. 

JAL’s Europe capacity was down 43.2% versus 2019 for the nine-month period. 

International load factors remained very low during the nine months. Even as it operated a relatively strong schedule on Americas routes during the April-December period, load factor was just 27.2% on those routes.