Japan Airlines Now Has Ten Airbus A350s In Service

The tenth Airbus A350-900 was handed over to Japan Airlines last week. JA10XJ was ferried from Toulouse to Tokyo Haneda on Thursday. Japan Airlines hasn’t wasted any time with their newest plane. Already, the airline is putting the plane to work.

Japan Airlines received its 10th A350-900 aircraft last week. Photo Airbus

The delivery of JA10XJ leaves three A350-900s outstanding on an order that dates back to 2013. Like many airlines, Japan Airlines has trimmed the original order as market dynamics shifted. But in June 2019, the first A350-900 (JA01XJ) landed in Japan, and since then, Japan Airlines has taken receipt of a further nine at a steady clip.

Given the challenges facing Japan Airlines, it is notable all ten A350-900s are in the air. The planes are based at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and are exclusively flying domestic routes. Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on what JAL’s A350-900 fleet today.

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Japan Airlines sets its Airbus A350s to work on domestic sectors

The first A350-900, JA01XJ, flew from Osaka (ITM) to Okinawa’s Naha Airport (OKA) on Wednesday morning. The plane is a regular on this run. JA02XJ has sat at Tokyo Haneda (HND) since Monday after flying in from Naha. The cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Naha, Fukuoka, and Chitose/Tomakomai are all regular destinations on JA02XJ’s flight roster.

JAL’s third A350-900, JA03XJ, is also in Haneda, also having sat there since Monday and operating a flight up from Naha. The fourth A350-900 to arrive at Japan Airlines, JA04XJ flew into Haneda on Wednesday morning from Chitose/Tomakomai (CTS).

JA10XJ’s delivery flight last Thursday. Source: RadarBox.com

The 2019 A350-900 deliveries are rounded off with JA05XJ. On Wednesday morning, it flew from Haneda to Naha. After flying up to Fukuoka (FUK) on Tuesday evening, JA06XJ has returned to Tokyo Haneda on Wednesday morning.

JAL’s seventh A350-900, JA07XJ, was delivered in November 2020. It has a busy Tuesday, operating three return services between Tokyo Haneda and Chitose/Tomakomai. But mid-morning on Wednesday in Tokyo, JA07XJ remains on the ground at Haneda.

JA08XJ also traveled the well-worn corridor between Tokyo Haneda and Naha on Wednesday morning. The ninth A350-900, JA09XJ, has just returned to Haneda after operating a morning flight up to Fukuoka and back.

Finally, the most recent arrival, JA10XJ. After operating a return flight to Naha on Tuesday, JA10XJ left Haneda at 10:30 Tokyo time on Wednesday and, at the time of writing, is soon to land in Chitose/Tomakomai.

Japan Airlines is to receive three more A350-900s from Airbus. Photo: Airbus

Domestic flying an odd fate for A350s?

Relegated to short-haul domestic flying might seem an odd fate for a fleet of new mid-sized aircraft, but these planes were never destined for long-haul flying. The idea was when the first A350s landed in 2019, they would fly the hordes of foreign tourists visiting for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics around Japan. Well, we all know how that plan panned out.

Japan Airlines has a history of using widebody aircraft on short-haul domestic routes. Historically, these are some of the densest and busiest airline routes in the world. Beyond the ill-fated Olympics, JAL’s strategy was to gradually swap out older Boeing 777-300 and 777-200 aircraft used on domestic routes for the fresher A350s.

Sharing Japan’s domestic skies are JAL’s Boeing 767-300s who do a mix of domestic and intra-Asian regional flying. While the smart A350s would no doubt make a good impression further afield, these days, Japan Airlines leaves the bulk of its long-haul international flying its Boeing Dreamliner fleet. Despite its clear capabilities, Japan Airlines chooses to fly the A350-900s on home turf.