Struggling JAL cuts more routes

A total of 45 international and domestic routes are being slashed from the Japan Airlines Group's schedules as the carrier struggles with ongoing financial problems.

The airline has announced that it will halt services on 15 international routes, involving 86 round-trip flights, and flights to a further 30 domestic destinations. The company had previously annouced that it would suspend flights on 13 international routes.

Among the routes to go will be the seven weekly flights from Kansai International Airport, which serves the greater Osaka region, to the previously popular Pacific resort island of Guam. The airline is mothballing the route as of October 1.

Other routes that are being axed include those between Tokyo's Narita Airport and Sao Paulo, Milan, Rome, Brisbane, Bali and Honolulu as well as Kansai to Hong Kong, Beijing and Bangkok.

JAL's overall international passenger capacity - measured in available seat kilometers - will be reduced by 40 percent from the level of fiscal 2008.

"The extent to which the route and flight frequency plan has been streamlined is vital to achieving a swift revival of the JAL Group," the company said in a statement. "JAL seeks the understanding of its customers who will be inconvenienced by the changes announced."

The route reductions come in sharp contrast to the upbeat announcement earlier this week of 28 extra flights during the traditional Golden Week holiday period, which officially began on Thursday. The extra flights were laid on to popular holiday destinations, including Guam, Hawaii, Palau, Bali and Cairns in Australia.

JAL's decision to cut the number of routes it flies was due to its efforts "to achieve a drastic reduction of fixed costs, which was initially planned for three years, in one year," the company said.

The airline filed for bankruptcy protection in January with debts amounting to $25.6 billion and is in the process of government-led restructuring. The company has already announced that it would cut about one-third of its workforce - an estimated 15,000 jobs - and switch to smaller and more efficient aircraft.

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