Japan Airlines wants smaller planes, shuns A380


TOKYO (XFNews) - Japan Airlines wants smaller aircraft and is not interested in the new superjumbo Airbus 380, the carrier's incoming chief said.  Asia's largest airline wants medium-sized planes so it can prioritize shorter-distance flights, particularly to China, chief executive-designate Haruka Nishimatsu said.

 He ruled out for now buying the double-decker Airbus 380, the world's largest passenger airliner which debuts later this year with Singapore Airlines.

"As we are in a time where the aviation business has become more volatile due to geo-political factors, it is an iron rule for us to move to smaller aircraft to minimize risk," he said, referring to the drop in air travel after the September 11, 2001 attacks and Asia's SARS epidemic in 2003.

"Also considering high oil prices, fuel consumption increases dramatically in long-distance flights," he told reporters. "If large planes fill up, it would be alright but otherwise the fuel cost becomes a risk."

Both Japan Airlines (JAL) and domestic rival All Nippon Airways (ANA) buy nearly exclusively from US giant Boeing Co, the main rival of Europe's Airbus.

JAL plans to introduce 38 aircraft including Boeing's medium-size long-haul 787 by 2009, a critical year for aviation in Japan when the two major airports in the Tokyo area open more runways.

"Our shorter-term targets in fiscal 2007 to 2008 are to expand routes served by middle- and small-size aircraft, mainly on Japan-China routes," Nishimatsu said.

"The resulting increase in the number of takeoff and landing slots is expected to lead to a major expansion in (Haneda) airport's domestic and international scheduled services," he said.

However, JAL has been hit by a slip in passenger traffic to China in the wake of anti-Japanese demonstrations there early last year, along with customer concerns after a series of safety scares.

JAL plunged into the red in the financial year to March, posting a loss of 47.2 biln yen. 

Nishimatsu takes over as chief executive in June from Toshiyuki Shinmachi, who has been forced out in a management rebellion over the mounting losses.

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