Last week the International Airlines Group (IAG) announced a joint initiative between British Airways and Japan Airlines (JAL) which will lead to an increase in flights between Europe and Japan (see online news February 2).
At the time, no details were available about the new services and a number of readers expressed their curiosity.
Business Traveller can now report that one of the first fruits of the initiative will be a new JAL link between the Nordic capital of Helsinki and Japan. It will strengthen Oneworld’s representation (BA, JAL and Finnair are members of this alliance) in mainland Europe Scandinavia and the Nordic region.
JAL will serve the Tokyo Narita-Helsinki route four times-weekly from March 2013, departing Tokyo at 1145 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving at 1505, with the return leg leaving Helsinki at 1725, landing back into Tokyo at 1005 the following day.
JAL will be using a long range B787-800 Dreamliner for both this route and new flights to San Diego (scheduled to launch this December) which is exactly the purpose for which this plane was designed. The B787 was intended to offer passengers a better deal by providing non-stop flights on less busy routes and so avoid the need to transit a big hub airport.
JAL’s B787-800 will accommodate only 186 passengers compared with a designed capacity of 240. The low density layout will comprise 144 seats in economy (configured 2-4-2) with 42 in business class (2-2-2). No first or premium economy seating is provided and no details are available about what type of business class seating will be installed.
But why Helsinki? It’s because the Finnish capital is home to Finnair are already covers Japan successfully with flights to three cities (Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya). Futhermore passengers located in the UK, mainland Europe and Scandinavia can make connections using Oneworld members.
BA and Finnair serve Helsinki from London Heathrow while Finnair also departs from Manchester. Finnair flies out of airports around Scandinavia and much of mainland Europe. Soon-to-be Oneworld member Air Berlin flies into Helsinki from cities throughout Germany, either by itself or under a Finnair code-share arrangement.
Helsinki lies astride the Great Circle route linking Europe with Asia and one of its selling points are the connections offered out of cities (without non-stop links to Japan) such as Manchester, Hamburg, Berlin, Brussels, Stockholm, Gothenburg and so on.
San Diego is a growing business city on the US West Coast. It is served by Oneworld’s American Airlines and also by BA who operates the city’s only long-haul international service (from London Heathrow).
JAL’s first international route with its B787-800 will be Tokyo Narita to Boston which is planned to start on April 22.
For more information visit jal.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter