Japan Airlines Planning Moscow Move In Summer 2020

Japan Airlines looks set to transfer its Russian operations from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport to Sheremetyevo. Writes the airline in a press release (12/09/19), the move is expected to take place in time for the summer schedule 2020.

JAL jet take-off
JAL to transfer ops from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport to Sheremetyevo in 2020. Photo: Airbus

JAL’s transfer of ops coincides with its move from Tokyo Narita to Haneda, writes CH-Aviation. The Japanese carrier has recently been granted route slots for flights between Haneda and Moscow.

Given the whispers of a future collaboration between JAL and Aeroflot, the move is unsurprising. To build stronger ties with the Russian carrier, JAL is apt to serve Aeroflot’s main hub at Sheremetyevo. JAL flies a B787-8 daily between Tokyo and Moscow; Aeroflot deploys a B777-300ER for the same route.

JAL also announced its intention to fly a new route between Tokyo Narita and Vladivostok during the summer schedule of 2020.

We have contacted JAL for a statement of the changes but have so far received no response.


JAL has been operating flights to Moscow since 1967. The carrier revealed in its press release upcoming plans to relocate ops to Sheremetyevo as well as an intention to revise its flying schedule for international routes during FY2019.

JAL jets concept in flight
Japan and Russia have a long-standing cultural partnership. Photo: Airbus

Since 2017, the Japanese carrier has been rebuilding its financial health. This came after restrictions on its business operations were lifted. The Japanese government placed an embargo on JAL’s machinations during a period of state-sponsored rehabilitation.

In the last two years, JAL has opted to forge strategic links with other airlines, especially Pacific carriers such as Hawaiian Airlines, in an effort to support further growth and expansion. In addition, flight frequencies have increased and new routes have opened.

The only nut JAL has not yet been able to crack is North America, which continues to dominate Pacific routes. However, the Japanese carrier is optimistic of its ability to grow in the States by opening up routes not yet serviced by major airlines.

Why Sheremetyevo?

Sheremetyevo International Airport seems a worthwhile choice for JAL and not just due to Aeroflot. The airport provides more convenient links to Moscow city, which for tourists and business travelers both is a boon.

The airport also has a more modern infrastructure and more amenities at its terminals. According to JAL’s press release the airport “…has been recognized for the best customer service in the busiest airports in Europe category by ACI’s global Airport Service Quality (ASQ) program for 2018 and subsequently entered the list of the world’s best airports.”

This year, Sheremetyevo was considered to be the best airport in the world according to the global analytical study conducted by British company Stasher.

JAL jet in flight concept
Sheremetyevo is more modern and spacious than Domodedovo. Photo: JAL

Business partnership

The move is considered by most to be a preemptive drive towards greater cooperation with Russian carrier Aeroflot. According to JAL, once set up at Sheremetyevo, the airline will seek talks with Aeroflot about a code-share agreement.

JAL has already increased the frequency of its flights to the Russian capital. From October 27th until January 13th and from March 1st, 2020 until March 28th, 2020 the carrier will operate daily flights between Tokyo and Moscow.

In 2017 JAL announced a comprehensive business partnership with Aeroflot. The Russian carrier’s hub is a popular choice for both the domestic and international traveler. Aeroflot possesses the largest network of routes throughout Russia. A hub and spoke model including JAL would strengthen the countries’ economic and cultural detente.

The plans and schedules are subject to government approval.