Japan Airlines is celebrating their fiftieth anniversary of operations in Singapore. In 1958, a Douglas DC-6, a piston-powered airliner and transport aircraft, landed at Paya Lebar Airport to launch JAL’s thrice weekly service between Singapore via Bangkok and Hong Kong to Haneda Airport. The flight took nine hours and thirty minutes to complete. Today, JAL uses the latest Boeing 777 aircraft and flies direct to Narita Airport from Changi Airport in seven hours. The airline now operates twenty-one direct passenger flights. JAL’s staff strength in Singapore has grown to three hundred, with one hundred ground staff and more than two hundred cabin attendants.
“Fifty years ago, JAL first set up its Singapore branch and soon after we started flying to this exciting, wonderfully ‘unique’ country. At that time, we offered our customers a three times a week service between Tokyo and Singapore routed via Hong Kong and Bangkok using a DC-6B” remarked Mr. Haruka Nishimatsu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Japan Airlines.
“Since then, our operations here have expanded together with the incredible economic growth of this dynamic Asian Tiger. Today, we offer direct passengers services to Tokyo twice daily and to Osaka daily, as well as six cargo flights a week, attending to the needs of the business and leisure traveller alike,” continued Mr. Nishimatsu.
JAL’s role in Singapore has been beneficial to both countries. In regard to this, Nishimatsu commented: “JAL is extremely proud to have acted as a bridge between Japan and Singapore, helping facilitate this growth, and bring the peoples and cultures of our countries closer together. On behalf of JAL, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to the many passengers and business partners for the huge support they have given us over the past fifty years.”
Some of the milestones that have defined JAL’s presence in Singapore include the introduction of five direct, nonstop Singapore-Tokyo flights in 1977; the establishment in 1979 of the ‘Orient Network’ and ‘Creative Tours’ agencies in Singapore and in 1981, JAL conducted a special flight for a visit from the Imperial Highness Crown Prince and Princess and officially moved to the new Changi Airport. In 1987, JAL announced a recruitment plan of one hundred and twenty foreign flight attendants on its Europe and Singapore routes. In 2000, the first Osaka/Singapore cargo freight service was introduced and by 2001, sleeper seats were introduced into first class. By June 2004, JAL had started flying the more fuel-efficient Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on the Singapore route and in April 2007 officially joined the oneworld alliance. In December 2007, JAL introduced the JAL Shell Flat Seat, JAL Good Sleep Service, and a more personalized in-flight service in business class.
To mark the anniversary, Mrs. Lim Hwee Hua, the Senior Minister of State for Finance & Transport and His Excellency Mr. Makoto Yamanaka, Ambassador of Japan, together with Mr. Nishimatsu will presided over an official ceremony and dinner last evening at JetQuay’s CIP Terminal.