EXCLUSIVE | Japan Airlines will begin direct flights between Melbourne and Tokyo from September 2017.
JAL's Boeing 787 Dreamliner will ferry travellers on the 10½ hour journey to Toyko's popular but distant Narita International Airport.
The flights will run as follows:
- JL773 leaves Tokyo/Narita at 10:30am to reach Melbourne at 9:55pm (starting September 1)
- JL774 is wheels-up from Melbourne at 12:05am, arriving into Narita Airport at 9:05am the same day (from September 2)
"We're very pleased with the success of our Sydney-Tokyo route and are considering flights from Melbourne to Tokyo," a spokesperson for Japan Airlines told Australian Business Traveller, "but can't comment on unannounced routes."
Australian Business Traveller understands that Japan Airlines staff have been visiting Melbourne Airport across recent months to make arrangements for lounge access and sign contracts for 'below the wing' services such as check-in, baggage handling and catering.
Qantas launched daily flights between Melbourne and Tokyo/Narita in December 2016, taking over a route previously flown by low-cost sibling Jetstar.
The Qantas flight is a daily service to Tokyo with an overnight leg back to Melbourne, while JAL's flights will complement those of its Oneworld partner, running overnight from Melbourne to Tokyo and then during the day and early evening en route to Victoria.
The pointy end of JAL's Boeing 787-8 features 38 of its business class Sky Suites.
These are arranged in a 2-2-2 layout (albeit with direct aisle access for every passenger due to the offset seating) with a retractable privacy screen between the paired seats.
Each converts into a 1.88 metre fully-flat bed...
... with an oversized 23 inch video screen boasting over 300 channels of programming.
The business class cabin occupies almost half of JAL's Boeing 787, before you get to the 35 premium economy seats arranged 2-3-2, each with a generous 42 inches of pitch and 19.2 inch wide seat in a fixed shell design so the passenger in front of you can't recline into 'your' space.
Finally, 88 economy seats ranked 2-4-2 sport a pleasing 33 inches of pitch and are 19 inches wide.