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Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines Boeing 747-400. The colour scheme has changed since
this photo was taken.

Japan Airlines (or JAL) is the national airline company of Japan, along with All Nippon Airways. Its IATA designator is JL.

Most of the airline's international service is based at New Tokyo International Airport in Narita, Japan. The domestic service is mostly out of Tokyo International Airport in the ward of Ota in Tokyo, Japan.


Japan Airlines was established in 1951, with the government of Japan recognizing the need for a reliable air transportation system to help Japan grow in the aftermath of World War II.

In 1953, a Martin 404 of Japan Airlines crashed, killing all 37 on board.

Japan Airlines, in addition to the 404's, used DC-3, DC-4, DC-6 and DC-7 during the 1950s. Towards the end of that decade, it started its first international service, to San Francisco.

In 1960, Japan Airlines bought their first jet, a DC-8. Soon after, they decided to re-equip their airline, using jet airplanes only. That decade, many new international destinations were established.

In the 1970s they bought the Boeing 747, the Boeing 727 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 to accommodate the ever growing list of international routes, both to its Asian neighbors, and around the world.

In the 1980s Japan Airlines performed special flights for the Crown Prince of Japan and the Princess, Pope John Paul II, and various Japanese prime ministers. During that decade they also began to be more promotionally aware, with plane models and other promotional items being produced in quantity. It also bought new Boeing 767 jets and retired the DC-8's and 727's. In 1985, one of their 747's crashed, killing 540 out of 544 people on board.

Japan Airlines began the 1990s with flights to help evacuate Japanese citizens from Iraq before the start of the Gulf War. In 1992, Japan Air Charters was established, and in 1997, an agreement with The Walt Disney Company was announced, making Japan Airlines the official airline of Disney Tokyo. That year also, JALExpress had been established, with Boeing 737 aircraft. Also in 1997, the airline had to fly the Japanese prime minister to Peru to help negotiate in the Tupac Amaru kidnapping case. Japan Airlines acquired Boeing 777's during that decade, and it was named the official airline of the Sydney Olympic Games.


Currently, Japan Airlines is the only Asian airline that flies to Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. The airline flies a long list of other destinations, both domestic and international. Japan Airlines is one of the most widely known companies by model aeroplane collectors, their planes being produced in mass quantities by Schabak, Wooster, Flight Miniatures, Long Prosper, Dragon Wings, etc., etc.

Other facts of interest