Japan Airlines retires 17-year-old 777 amid Coronavirus crisis

Japan Airlines (JAL) has announced it has retired its first long-range jet, a 17-year-old 777-200ER, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said.

JAL is expected to operate other -200ERs into the 2020s, having launched a cabin retrofit project in 2016 to give the jets lie-flat, direct aisle access business class seats on flights to Southeast Asia and Hawaii.

JAL said there are no specific dates set for the retirement of the aircraft and that replacements could be existing fleet, including other 777s, 787s or 767s.

JAL expects to restore 80% of domestic capacity in August and a normal schedule as early as October. Domestic markets, which don´t have foreign restrictions or quarantine, are a buffer for airlines.

JAL owns almost all of its widebodies, including 11 777-200ERs, giving it flexibility to retire aircraft. JAL said it is not yet planning a larger aircraft withdrawal program.

JAL has retired non-ER 777-200s, and sent older 787s to wholly-owned hybrid start-up Zip Air Tokyo.