Japan Air Lines

Japan Air Line is a latter-day successor to Dai Nihon Koku, the first Japanese government-controlled airline, established in 1938. JAL was founded in August of 1951 with a charter fleet consisting of three Martin 202s and one DC-4. Only domestic flights were made then. Because Japanese airmen were not then authorized to pilot aircraft, the company operated for a time under a charter agreement with Northwest Airlines, which manned and maintained JAL’s small air fleet.

The new JAL emerged in essentially its present format when the Japanese Diet enacted the Japan Airlines Company Limited Law in October, 1953. Early in 1954, JAL broke loose from its domestic status by inaugurating a twice-weekly service over the Tokyo-Honolulu-San Francisco route and on the Tokyo-Okinawa run, to become Japan’s sole international flag carrier.

Acquiring long-range jets in 1960, JAL moved into the front rank of the world’s airlines.

Expanding steadily through the years, at last count JAL was servicing over 46,000 route miles with a fleet of 35 airplanes, more than half of them modern jets. In 1963, JAL carried more than a quarter million passengers over its international routes and 1.6 million domestically. Japan Air Lines currently provides trans-Pacific jet service to the United States 17 times a week. JAL also services Southeast Asia, Europe (via the North Pole and via the new “Silk Road” route, stopping at Hong Kong, Bangkok, Calcutta, Karachi, Cairo, Rome and Frankfort enroute to London), Okinawa, as well as domestic trunk routes within Japan Next on the JAL plan is a thrice-weekly jet service around the world.

Excerpted from the book Above the Pacific by Lieutenant Colonel William Joseph Horvat, 1966.