US-based Kalitta Air has begun placing a Japan Airlines flight number on three weekly round trips between Chicago (NRT) and Narita (NRT), operated by a 747-400F. That aircraft appears to be unit 26414, a 747-400F Kalitta acquired from Korean Air about a year ago.
The service departs ORD every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, and leaves NRT every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. A technical stop is made in Anchorage (ANC) in both directions.
JAL Cargo told Cargo Facts that, while it currently has no plans to acquire and operate any freighters of its own, it was looking to offer its customers regular, scheduled capacity between Japan and North America, and partnering with Kalitta was a suitable alternative. JAL has previously chartered maindeck capacity on a seasonal basis across the Pacific too, and said that it would most likely continue to do so.
The Japanese airline was a significant freighter operator prior to its bankruptcy in 2010, having flown several variants of the 747 including the -100SF, the -200SF and the -400BCF, as well as 767-300Fs.
Fellow Japan-based carrier ANA will launch its own-operated freighter service between NRT and ORD starting this October using the two 777Fs that joined its fleet earlier this year, and will also continue to charter capacity with Nippon Cargo Airlines’ 747Fs on two round trips per week between the two cities.