JAL to start domestic freighter next year

Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Japan Airlines (JAL) has begun converting Airbus A321 aircraft into freighters for use on a domestic freighter network due to launch in April next year.

Conversion of the first aircraft began on May 8 in Singapore and is expected to be completed by mid-September, said the Tokyo-headquartered airline.

Another two A321s are also due for conversion.

The conversions are being carried out by ST Engineering in Singapore under the management and supervision of ST Engineering’s joint venture with Airbus, Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH (EFW).

Following the refurbishment process, the freighter will be transported on a ferry to Japan in late October.

The second and third aircraft are currently parked in France, confirmed JAL.

The domestic freighter network that the A321 passenger to freighter (P2F) conversions will be used on will be operated by JAL’s low-cost carrier unit, Spring Japan, in partnership with forwarder Yamato.

Spring Japan will utilize the freighters to operate 21 flights a day on four key routes.

The planned flight schedule is between Tokyo (Narita/Haneda) and Kitakyushu, Tokyo (Narita/Haneda) and Sapporo (New-Chitose), Tokyo (Narita) and Okinawa (Naha), and Okinawa (Naha) and Kitakyushu.

Yamoto previously said its freighter partnership with JAL was prompted by a law change in Japan, coming into force from April 2024, which will limit the yearly overtime work hours of truck drivers to 960 hours.

JAL also recently announced it will add three 767-300ER freighters to its fleet, with operations due to start at the end of the 2023 fiscal year.