Masaru Onishi, Chairman, Japan Airlines
ATN: What are 2-3 things about your airline you expect your customers to be excited about?
-For instance, new onboard products such as full flat beds in business class in the near future.
ATN: From many industry surveys, it appears that airlines’ top focus areas are ancillary/merchandizing, mobile and alliances. Can you tell us more about how you are approaching these? Or do you have different focus and strategies?
We are always pursuing convenience for our customers in various aspects, ranging from improving mobile services to expanding our network through closer cooperation with partner airlines within the oneworld alliance as well as bilaterally.
JAL recognized the value of utilizing mobile phone technology early on, and was a pioneer in introducing the Touch & Go boarding system in 2005 which enabled customers to go through boarding using their mobile phones instead of with a printed boarding pass. In April this year, we also introduced a new mobile phone application that allows our customers to conveniently make domestic flight and hotel package reservations.
In terms of alliance strategies, JAL recognizes that the competition these days is no longer constraint to between individual airlines but between alliances. oneworld comprises reputable, quality carriers and we intend to work closely with our partners to together, bring our customers greater benefits.
ATN: Technology continues to play a big role in helping airlines globally. What are some examples of how technology has enhanced the way you do business, and perhaps share some challenges you face with technology?
Another example is how with technology, light-weight composite materials could be used to make up to 50% of the 787 aircraft, improving its fuel efficiency and extending its long-range capability. Additionally, the cabin environment is also enhanced with higher humidity and lower cabin altitude, making it more comfortable for customers.
Nearly ten years ago, JAL had once launched an onboard Internet service from 2004 to 2006. However, as technology then were not yet sufficiently developed and customer needs were low, the service provider to JAL eventually decided to suspend their operations, and JAL had to end the service. Now, over the last few years, the number of mobile phone and computer users has increased, correspondingly raising the demand for onboard connectivity. With the growing demand and technological development in this area, we found a suitable provider in Panasonic Avionics Corporation to once again offer onboard Internet connectivity.
ATN: Fuel is listed as one of the top concerns for airlines in the region. Are there are other areas or things that keep you up at night?
The airline industry is vulnerable to unpredictable external risks that are beyond our control, such as war, conflicts and epidemics. We need to constantly pay attention to our surroundings and be ready to cope with any risks.
ATN: What are your reactions to IATA’s forecast that airline profitability will hit an all-time low in 2012? Are you taking any steps to ensure profitability for your airline?
At the same time, we will make structural reforms and raise the level of employees’ consciousness for profitability by introducing the divisional profitability management system. We will strengthen our efforts to build a solid financial base so that we can respond swiftly and with agility to changes in our operating environment.
ATN: What do you think your airline will look like 10 years from now?
ATN: What will be impact of the JAL and IAG's antitrust business agreement?
ATN: Will Jetstar Partnership and Peach have any impact on JAL in terms of the domestic market?
While we acknowledge there would be a certain number of JAL customers who would shift to taking LCCs, we do not think that would have a huge impact. In fact, we are not seeing any drastic changes in demand on routes that are now also being operated by Peach.