After more than ten years, the Japan Airlines (JAL) Group will have freighters in its active fleet again.
JAL will start operating three A321Fs within Japan on a CMI basis for Japanese delivery company Yamato Transport from April 2024, as part of a new partnership between the two companies.
Yamato confirmed to Cargo Facts that the three aircraft will be A321-200P2Fs to be converted by Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) and that it will lease them from Fuyo General Lease.
JAL told Cargo Facts that amendments to Japanese labor law taking effect in 2024 will result in restrictions on drivers of long-distance trucks and that it is necessary to respond to the growth of e-commerce and the ensuing air cargo demand. Another factor is the downgauging of passenger aircraft on domestic routes and the need to move away from relying on belly capacity, according to Yamato.
The three freighters will be flown by JAL’s partially owned low-cost subsidiary Jetstar Japan between Tokyo’s Haneda (HND) and Narita (NRT) airports and Sapporo (CTS), Naha (OKA) and Kitakyushu (KKJ), according to the two companies.
JAL has not operated any freighters of its own since its bankruptcy restructuring in 2010. At the time the carrier operated both 747-400Fs and 767-300Fs.
JAL, which in 2019 entered into a codeshare agreement with Kalitta Air on trans-Pacific 747-400F flights, told Cargo Facts it does not currently plan to add any freighters of its own.
The Qantas Group, which owns Jetstar Japan together with JAL and Tokyo Century Corporation, already operates three A321-200P2Fs of its own through its wholly owned subsidiary Express Freighters Australia. The carrier received its third unit (1408) in December 2021.
[Edited to add commentary from Yamato.]
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