Japan Airlines will resume its Tokyo-Sydney flights from September 2020, being the first time since March that Japan’s flag carrier will touch down in Australia, after its routes to both Sydney and Melbourne were paused as international travel restrictions took effect.
With two services from Tokyo each week, one flight will depart JAL’s normally bustling Tokyo Narita international hub, while the other will run from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
This will allow passengers to not only travel from Japan to Australia, but also to connect through Tokyo from destinations across Europe and North America, with the Haneda/Narita alternation allowing those connections to take place.
But for now, Japan Airlines will only offer passenger flights inbound to Australia, and with a capacity limit of 30 passengers per flight in line with Australian government restrictions.
When the aircraft turns around and departs Sydney for Japan, it’ll be without passengers on board – but it’s expected to be loaded up with cargo, to help make the service viable.
Using a Boeing 787-8 aircraft, business class passengers can stretch out in JAL’s Sky Suites.
These pair a fully-flat bed with direct (and uninterrupted) aisle access from every seat, including for passengers positioned by the windows in this 2-2-2 layout, thanks to a small path in front of their seatmate’s entertainment screen, rather than needing to hop over them.
ET review: JAL Sky Suite business class, Sydney-Tokyo
These aircraft come without first class or premium economy, but do offer economy class: and in a more spacious 2-4-2 (eight across) seating layout than the 3-3-3 (nine across) configuration adopted by most other airlines flying the Dreamliner.
Japan Airlines’ Tokyo-Sydney flight schedule
From Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, flight JL51 will operate on Thursdays during at least September, pushing back at 7:20pm local time to reach Sydney at 6:10am on Friday mornings, after a journey of 9hr 50min.
Services from Narita Airport follow the same schedule, but instead departing on Monday evenings and arriving on Tuesday mornings, under flight number JL771.
By alternating flights between these two airports, passengers will be able to travel to Australia via Tokyo from cities across North America and Europe.
As some of those flights arrive into Narita Airport, and others into Haneda Airport, passengers will be able to line-up a connection regardless of the hub served by that connecting flight – as flying into one airport, and continuing out of the other, is not currently allowed.
Of course, Australia remains closed to international tourists: and Australian citizens and permanent residents returning home from abroad must spend two weeks in hotel quarantine at their own expense upon arrival.
Japan Airlines’ previous plans for 2020
Before COVID-19 closed borders and shuttered most international travel, Japan Airlines was flying to two Australian cities – Sydney and Melbourne – and had planned to upgrade its Sydney-Tokyo flights to the Boeing 777-300ER, equipped with first class.
Those flights would have taken wing from September 1 2020, making Japan Airlines the only carrier to offer first class on non-stop flights between Australia and Japan.
JAL’s daily Sydney-Tokyo service would have also shifted from Narita Airport to Haneda Airport in late March – the same month that Virgin Australia was due to begin flying between Brisbane and Tokyo.