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Japan Airlines touches down in Melbourne

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 4, 2017

Japan Airlines inaugural flight to Melbourne on September 1 2017. (Victor Pody)
Japan Airlines inaugural flight arrives at Melbourne on September 1 2017. (Victor Pody)

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

The inaugural service, operated as flight JL773 by Boeing 787-8 JA845J, touched down at Melbourne Tullamarine just before 2200 on Friday night after a 10 and a half hour journey from Tokyo Narita.

The aircraft received an Airservices Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) monitor cross as it taxiied to the gate, while there were some festivities in the terminal commemorating the inaugural flight.

Japan Airlines chairman Masaru Onishi at Melbourne Airport after the inaugural service. (Victor Pody)
Japan Airlines chairman Masaru Onishi at Melbourne Airport after the inaugural service. (Victor Pody)
Japan Airlines inaugural flight to Melbourne on September 1 2017. (Victor Pody)
The Japan Airlines’ Boeing 787-8 features the best economy class configuration of all Dreamliner operators. (Victor Pody)

The 787-8 was on the ground for about two hours before operating JL774 back to Tokyo Narita.

Japan Airlines’ 787-8s used on the Melbourne route feature 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)

Melbourne is Japan Airlines’ second destination in Australia. Currently, its daily Sydney-Tokyo (Narita) operation is a morning departure from Sydney and red-eye service from Tokyo.

Japan Airlines’ return to Melbourne is the latest move in a growing Australia-Japan market, which has been expanding in recent times.

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.

Figures from the Australian government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) showed the number of passengers travelling between Australia and Japan rose 10.6 per cent to 1.3 million in the 12 months to June 30 2017.

Japan is Australia’s 10th largest international passenger market, based on uplift and discharge data.

While encouraging, the numbers 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.

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Comments (10)

  • Oskar


    161 seats a day is less than Malindo use with the 737-800 on the KUL-DPS-BNE!

  • Lechuga


    Bits not about the seats, it’s about the comfort you get whilst travelling. Sardine cans aren’t for everyone. JAL have done a very good job with this.

    Hope to see it upgrade to a -9 soon.

  • Bill


    Well said Lechuga

    Who really wants to travel sardine class any way ?

  • Brad


    That is an amazingly premium heavy config with Y class only 55% of capacity. Well done JL in offering a 787 config that realises the airliner’s potential across all classes. It’s a pity other supposedly full-service airlines went for the LCC config.

  • Troy


    Jetstar squeeze more than TWICE the number of people onto the same aircraft type! 335 For Jetstar, 161 for JL, no contest for comfort really….

  • Ken Hambleton


    I am very happy now that JAL is flying to Melbourne, going with them in November, cannot wait.

    Last time I used JAL was out of Sydney, hopefully never again, hate sydney airport.


  • Roman


    Doesn’t ANA also operate 8 across in economy?

  • Tex


    The best Dreamliner operator hands-down.

    Where Qantas waffled on about their “revolutionary” Dreamliner product, JAL has actually delivered.

  • Boris


    Kudos to JAL for this configuration – well done.

  • Jonathan


    Why does JAL use the 788 to Melbourne and the 789 for Sydney flights?

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