Japan Airlines Plans To Add New Flights To US West Coast City

Yesterday Japan Airlines presented a “medium term management plan,” which includes a PDF that has lots of interesting information in it. I’m always interested in airlines’ expansion plans — sometimes airlines are optimistic in their expansion goals, and other times the plan they set forth comes to fruition.

In this presentation, Japan Airlines dropped the following hint about a new US route:

Plans to launch a new route to the west coast of North America, thereby further improve connectivity between North America and Asia, in FY2019.

Japan Airlines wants to launch a flight to a new North American west coast city during FY2019 (October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019). Presently Japan Airlines’ west coast destinations include Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Vancouver.

Where could the airline be looking at expanding to? My guess is one of four places — Las Vegas, Portland, San Jose, or Seattle. The airline actually flew to Las Vegas and Seattle in the past, so those would be service resumptions rather than new services altogether.

Personally my guess is that Seattle would be their top pick. On one hand the market seems like it’s getting saturated, given that ANA and Delta already fly between Seattle and Tokyo. However, unlike ANA, Japan Airlines has a partnership with Alaska Airlines, so they have lots of connectivity opportunities there.

In the same sense Portland could work out well, as that’s an Alaska Airlines hub, and only Delta flies nonstop between Portland and Tokyo.

San Jose also seems like it has potential. Back in the day American flew between San Jose and Tokyo, and both American and Alaska have a decent presence there, so they’d have some connecting traffic.

Las Vegas seems like a long shot to me, but it is a popular tourist destination, so it’s not completely out of the question.

Personally my money is on Seattle, as I’ve thought all along that there’s a bigger play here in the partnership between Alaska and Japan Airlines. However, I certainly could be wrong.

Which US west coast city do you think JAL will add flights to?

Comments

  1. Don’t completely discount Phoenix. We’ve been trying to get an Asia flight for years, and JAL would nicely component the AA hub here.

  2. I think BWI should be considered by more Asian carriers like Asiana, JAL, China Airlines, etc.

  3. ANA fly’s NRT – SJC. They took over the route that American abandoned. It’s been an incredibly successful route . In the past 4 years the airport has seen significant growth with Air China to Shanghai and Hainan to Beijing. So much so that SJC is expanding. It could make sense for JAL to launch flights to SJC given Alaska has a large presence (1.3M PAX) there and the Tech connection.

  4. Due to the auto industry, Detroit has one of the largest population of Japanese expats in the country. And yet neither JAL nor ANA will touch this place. Thus leaving us with Delta, who takes advantage of their monopoly on non-stop flights to Japan by engaging in some of the most shameless price gouging I’ve ever seen anywhere.

  5. PHL would make sense. It’s a Oneworld hub that currently has no flights to Asia.

    Before I get any snarky replies, I’m aware of what coast PHL is on.

  6. Please Seattle Please Seattle Please Seattle.

    It does make the most sense due to Alaska partnership and large amount of Japanese population. Still, we are probably getting the 787 with crappy angle flat seats in Biz.

  7. Maybe Tijuana is another possibility, with Hainan (soon) and Aeromexico already having flights to Asia from there.

  8. Phoenix could also be a smart option, since it’s a oneWorld hub and they said they want to increase connectivity

  9. @Pat PHL would not make sense as JAL has stated west coast. So while you may be aware of the location of PHL, what was the purpose of suggesting it if the airline has already specified the other side of the country?

  10. @George Dtw makes sense for me, As a northwest Ohio resident that relies on Dtw, I’m (kinda) tired of Delta’s monopoly. Also, I’m 99% sure that DL and NH have an interline agreement rn, which could evolve into a codeshare agreement in the future.

  11. I can say the PDX to Tokyo route operated by Delta stays full and rates stay high, so the competition would be great if is Portland!

  12. Phoenix would make a lot of sense. It’s probably the largest metro area in the US without nonstop flights to any Asian city.

  13. @Sam Those airlines don’t even fly to IAD. I wouldn’t hold my breath on getting Asia flights from the east coast starting at a non hub.

  14. @Daniel Boston isn’t a hub for any major airlines but both JAL and Cathay have nonstops. I remember a few years ago, Asiana tried to fly to BWI(to compete with KAL out of IAD) but for whatever reason, it wasn’t approved. What I’m trying to say is that sheer number of Asian population in DC/Balt alone should make it worth while.

  15. Ontario, CA is my hope. Since breaking free from LAX control they’re pushing for international flights, which would be more accessible for Asian populations in the San Gabriel Valley.

  16. HND-SEA is my hope. It won’t help me for any of my business travel this year, but a direct flight into HND for next year’s travel would be wonderful.

    NRT would be acceptable, but HND is so much better. And it even works for transfers to GMP or TSA, which are significantly better airports than ICN and TPE respectively.

  17. I find it interesting that 2 of Japan Airlines’s newest partners are both Sky Team members, including Delta-owned Aeromexico.

  18. @M.O. : JAL doesn’t have any spare HND authorities lying around, and the next round of candy handouts aren’t due for a few more years, so launching HND-SEA would have to mean either HND-SFO or HND-JFK gets the chop.

    That said, JAL launching NRT-SEA should be the easiest choice to make out of the list.

  19. Besides this I hope they launch a non-stop to Miami in 2020, is a long distance but is possible with their 77W.

  20. I just flew the LAX-KIX route on the JAL 787. The business class seats are angle-flat and they are horrible. No possible way to sleep and it was not comfortable at all. You slide down all the time and there is not enough room for your feet. I would NEVER fly that product again. We changed our return flight to leave from NRT solely so we could fly the 77 7 with actual (narrow) lie-flat seats. Beware the JAL 787.

  21. Japanese FY2019 is April 1, 2019 to March 31,2020. Since it says FY2019 in Japanese version also. In addition your title is misleading as JAL says opening one route only.

  22. @George JAL and ANA cant fly out of DTW because Delta and Toyota already have a contract. The two carriers have been trying for years to get the contract, but because of Deltas huge presence at DTW I dont think they would make profits flying to DTW even if one of them got the contract with Toyota.

  23. Even though it’s not on the West Coast, I’d say PHX makes the best argument for service as it’s an AA/Oneworld Hub and feed the flight well. And is a large Metro Area as well with no nonstops to Asia.

  24. I can only wish that a trans pacific flight would return to ANC.
    It has been years since China Air left and Alaska State flyers would
    love a return of a pacific flight.

  25. @George – Detroit’s Japanese expat population is nothing compared to Hawaii, and the Pacific Coast (primarily Los Angeles, but also SF, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento and others). Not sure why you think there is a giant expat population in Detroit and autoland, they’re only something like the 4th or 5th largest Asian diaspora in that area.

    Wikipedia quotes the population in the thousands: ” In April 2013, the largest Japanese national population in the State of Michigan was in Novi, with 2,666 Japanese residents. West Bloomfield had the third largest Japanese population and Farmington Hills had the fourth largest Japanese population.[2]”

    You’re going to find 2,666 Japanese at the Meiji in Torrance, CA on a Saturday.

    I would believe that Detroit and surrounding autoland receive a large amount of corporate paid J travel from Japan, just like I expect that to go to Nashville as well, but for VFR and other historical ties, it’s just not there.

  26. Who is saying this new route is out of TYO? They only talk of a new route, not a new destination. So could be KIX-SFO for example. Or CTS-LAX, or FUK-LAX. I don’t know either but just saying.

  27. I think Phoenix makes sense since it is the 5th largest metro area in the country. While it does not have a huge premium customer base the high tech employment has grown significantly. Also a AA hub so oneworld connections make sense. When you think of all the midsize cities west of the mississippi that would need to connect, Phoenix would work. If you had to make a connection wouldn’t you rather connect in Phoenix than LAX. International terminal is also AA’s terminal in Phoenix. Skip the LAX terminal nightmare.

  28. With rumours of Delta pulling their PDX to Tokyo flight, Portland may be the winner given the large Alaska presence

  29. @Jaden: Presumably Delta would only cancel Portland-Tokyo because it is killing off its Tokyo-Narita hub, BUT that’s a pretty busy route with some big corporate clients. The same for Portland-Amsterdam.

  30. Heard that SJC is barely break even for ANA, and with HU flying SJC-PEK and CA flying SJC-PVG nowadays, I don’t see it rational for JAL to flying SJC.

    I’d say SEA being the most likely, LAS and PHX also highly possible, and OAK and ONT not surprising.

  31. I think It’s San Jose. ANA flies there with the dreamliner so there’s probably a market.

  32. @Sebastian

    The Japanese version of the PDF says new destination, which was translated to new route in the English version.

  33. George,

    It makes sense that Delta prices like they do. After all, they just lost 40 million dollars in subsidies from the American taxpayer, whom they so loathe.

  34. @Joel

    Phoenix is the fifth largest city, but Phoenix metro area as a whole is the 12 largest.

    Phoenix is still the busiest US airport without any flights to Asia. Unfortunately, Phoenix has a relatively small Asian population, however the American/OneWorld hub status could make it enticing. Futher, Sky Harbor Airport representatives have talked numerous times with JAL and Air China about commencing service to Asia.

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