"Business as usual" for passengers as JAL files for bankruptcy

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The Independent Travel

Japanese flag carrier JAL has filed for bankruptcy, promising that its customers will not be inconvenienced.

The airline's restructuring procedure, announced January 19 after weeks of speculation, will allow JAL (also known as Japan Airlines) to begin to review its routes and the aircraft it operates, aiming to shift from low-efficiency large aircraft to smaller aircraft and regional jets. It also plans to review its workforce and strategy.

In a statement posted on the group's website, JAL promises that it is "here to stay." Additionally, the company states "flight operations will not be interrupted" and "effects on customers will be avoided." All flight tickets will be honored, including domestic reservations, international reservations, domestic award ticket reservations and international award ticket reservations. Customers with loyalty points accumulated in the JAL Mileage Bank will have their mileage protected and future accumulation/redemptions will remain unchanged for the time being.

Japan Airlines is currently a major global carrier, operating flights to 217 airports in 35 countries around the world. In 2002, the carrier had a 66 percent market share for international flights in and out of Japan. However, it has been hit by several events over the past decade, notably the September 11 attacks, the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the soar in fuel prices which have led to a fall in tourism demand.