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Japan Airlines expands Oceania network with new Melbourne service to kick off in September

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 30, 2017

A Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8 featuring a special Doraemon livery. (Japan Airlines)
A Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8 featuring a special Doraemon livery. (Japan Airlines)

Japan Airlines has underlined the resurgence in the Australia-Japan market with the launch of nonstop Melbourne-Tokyo (Narita) flights from September.

The oneworld alliance member said it would serve Melbourne daily with Boeing 787-8s, with the first flight scheduled to take off on September 1.

Japan Airlines president Yoshiharu Ueki said the Australia-Japan economic partnership agreement (EPA) had brought the two countries closer together and supported the mounting of flights to Melbourne.

“We are delighted to introduce a new service to Melbourne, our second destination in Australia,” Ueki said in a statement.

“Since 1969, JAL has been operating to Australia and contributing to the promotion of bilateral relations between Japan and Australia. This partnership has become even stronger since the EPA went into force, and so we are pleased to serve Melbourne and continue supporting both nations from every possible aspect including business and tourism.”

Japan Airlines said the 787-8 to be used to Melbourne featured 161 seats, comprising 38 business class seats with direct aisle access for every passenger, 35 premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 configuration and 88 economy seats in a passenger pleasing eight across 2-4-2 layout.

The airline is the only 787 operator to have an eight across economy cabin.

Japan Airlines' Boeing 787-8 seat map. (Japan Airlines)
Japan Airlines’ Boeing 787-8 seat map. (Japan Airlines)


The Melbourne flights have been scheduled as a morning departure from Tokyo (Narita) arriving in Melbourne just before 2200. Meeanwhile, the reciprocal flight takes off from Tullamarine a little after midnight and lands at Tokyo in the morning.

Currently, Japan Airlines’ Sydney-Tokyo (Narita) operation is a morning departure from Sydney and red-eye service from Tokyo.

The new Melbourne-Tokyo (Narita) service is latest nonstop flight in an Australia-Japan market that has seen healthy growth over the past couple of years.


In August 2015, Qantas launched a new daily Brisbane-Tokyo (Narita) service with Airbus A330 equipment.

Then, in December that year Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways touched down in Australia for the first time since 1999 when it commenced nonstop Sydney-Tokyo (Haneda) flights.

And Qantas resumed Melbourne-Tokyo (Narita) flights in December 2016, returning to the route for the first time in eight years with a daily offering on Airbus A330s, following Jetstar’s withdrawal from the route.

Although Jetstar ended its flights to Japan from Melbourne, the Qantas-held low-cost carrier maintains services to Osaka and Tokyo (Narita) from the Gold Coast and Cairns.

Qantas International and Freight chief executive Gareth Evans said when announcing the Melbourne flights in September 2016 it was a “boom time” for tourism and business travel in the Japanese market.

Indeed, the Japan National Tourism Organisation statistics indicated 445,237 Australians visited Japan in calendar 2016, up 18.4 per cent compared with the prior corresponding period.

In terms of Japanese heading to this country, the latest figures from Tourism Australia showed there were 413,800 Japanese visitors to Australia in 2016, an increase of 22.7 per cent from a year earlier. Japan was Australia’s sixth largest source market of foreign visitors.

The latest annual report on international airline activity from Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) indicated loads on Australia-Japan flights were quite healthy. The airlines carried 1.26 million passengers in calendar 2016, with an average seat factor of 82.2 per cent.

And capacity, measured by available seats, is also on the up. In calendar 2016, there were about 1.5 million nonstop seats between Australia and Japan, up about 20.1 per cent from the prior year.

While encouraging, the figures are a long way away from the heady levels reached in the 1990s when there were more than 2.5 million seats a year between Australia and Japan, with Qantas the dominant carrier on the route.

In 1999, total seat capacity was still about two million.

Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said: “A critical reason behind the strong inbound performance we have enjoyed from Japan over the past 12 months has been increased aviation capacity.”

“We know that Japanese travellers have a strong preference for full-service carriers and direct nonstop flights, so we expect the new service to be very popular and help maintain what has been a significant bounce back from what is such an important market for Australian tourism.”

Flight Number/Routing
Days of operation
Time of departure
Time of arrival

JL774 Melbourne-Tokyo (Narita) 




JL773 Tokyo (Narita)-Melbourne




Comments (6)

  • Lechuga


    Another one for Melbourne. I am loving it.

  • Oskar clare


    BNE next please

  • kLANE


    Auckland or Christchurch next please

  • Ben


    Congratulations to the JAL accountants for resisting the urge to jam that extra seat into every row!

  • Mike


    JAL isn’t the only B787 operator with eight across economy seating. A quick look at ANA B787 seat maps shows they too have eight across economy seating in some Dreamliners.

  • Lena


    This is amazing. I think I’ve been in luck that now there are non-stop flights from Tullamarine just as Ive been wanting to travel to Japan for so long <3

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