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Japan Airlines Prepares for the Olympics with New Airline and Livery

A Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (Photo: AirlineGeeks

As 2020 approaches, Japan Airlines is taking steps to prepare for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, more commonly known as the 2020 Summer Olympics, that will be held in Tokyo. The flag carrier has taken time this week to unveil a new paint scheme and even a whole new spin-off airline that should be ready for the quadrennial event.

The airline will be Japan Airlines’ first attempt to start its own low-cost carrier by itself after launching Jetstar Japan alongside fellow OneWorld partner Qantas in 2011. The new carrier, to be named ZIPAIR Tokyo, will focus on blending JAL’s high-quality service with lower fares to make flying to Japan cheaper.

ZIPAIR Tokyo will start as a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner operator with the flag carrier pulling two aircraft from its mainline fleet to start the new airline. The initial routes for ZIPAIR Tokyo will launch in summer 2020 with routes from Tokyo to Bangkok and Seoul, steadily expanding and adding two new Dreamliners per year if successful.

ZIPAir Tokyo claims it is focusing on three branding concepts which they refer to as Z_Safety, Z_Human Centric, and Z_Value. According to the airline, “Z” is simply the first letter in the airline’s name while the space before the next word is the ‘infinite blank’ which is the low-cost carrier forever creating a better version of itself.

ZIPAIR Tokyo’s name is a mixture of both zip codes and the definition to move quickly. The idea of moving quickly is something the airline hopes to do to please travelers while the zip code meaning is the idea of changing scenery and locations through the flight. The Tokyo name is not only tying the airline to Japan but link it specifically to a city know for innovation as the low-cost carrier will try to innovate the Japanese medium and long-range flying experience. The airline has also revealed the color pallet for ZIPAIR Tokyo with what the main airline claims are ‘harmony gray’ and ‘trust green’ making up the future carrier’s color scheme.

For the island of Nihon, the idea of a medium to long-haul low-cost carrier is a new idea that has not been tested thus far. The island nation’s experience with low-cost carriers (LCC) has been relatively new as JAL competitor All Nippon Airways has driven LCC growth with airlines like Peach Aviation and Vanilla Air. However, these airlines have been mostly domestic or short hops to Asia with long haul not being tested. Asia has been particularly receptive to the idea, with long haul LCCs such as Air Asia X, Singapore Airlines-owned Scoot, Qantas-owned Jetstar and Korean Air-owned Jin Air all expanding to cross Asia as well as testing the waters in Hawaii.

Alongside the launch of ZIPAIR Tokyo, the airline recently held a “500 days till Tokyo 2020” event where a special livery to be worn by a Boeing 777-200 was unveiled. The aircraft features a special livery that will display “Tokyo 2020” above the Tokyo skyline and the aircraft’s wing.

The livery will also feature the Olympic mascots Miraitowa and Someity, with Miraitowa being the official mascot for the Olympics and the latter being the mascot for the Paralympics. Both cartoon designed characters will appear on the rear of the fuselage. The aircraft will also come with a modified interior with special headrests and cups to celebrate the event.

Rival All Nippon Airways, also an official sponsor of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has already unveiled its “HELLO 2020 JET” livery that was decided by fans submitting their best designs and a winner being a chosen in 2016. JAL’s Olympic aircraft will be a Boeing 777-200 with registration JA733J and will start operations on April 8 while the All Nippon livery was applied to a Boeing 777-200 with registration JA741A in 2018. Both 777s are based in Tokyo and operate domestic routes for their respective carriers.

Ian McMurtry


  • Ian McMurtry

    Although Ian McMurtry was never originally an avgeek, he did enjoy watching US Airways aircraft across western Pennsylvania in the early 2000s. He lived along the Pennsylvania Railroad and took a liking to trains but a change of scenery in the mid-2000s saw him shift more of an interest into aviation. He would eventually express this passion by taking flying lessons in mid-Missouri and joining AirlineGeeks in 2013. Now living in Wichita, Kansas, Ian is in college majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in business administration at Wichita State University.

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