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Japan Airlines will cut 45 international and domestic routes and shift faster to smaller jets to drastically cut costs as it restructures its operations, the carrier was quoted as saying in JapanTimes.com.

The indefinite suspensions of 15 international and 30 domestic routes bring Japan Airlines Corp’s total route cuts to 78, effectively slashing 40% of its international operation and 30% of domestic operation. The airline, known as JAL, had suspended 33 routes during the fiscal year ended March.

The report quotes JAL saying it was trying to “achieve a drastic reduction of fixed costs, which was initially planned for three years, in one year”.

JAL filed for bankruptcy protection in January with $US25.6 billion ($NZ35.73 billion) in debt and is undergoing a government-led restructuring under new leadership. It has been delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Among international routes to be discontinued after September are those between Tokyo and Amsterdam, Rome, Milan and San Francisco, as well as Osaka to Guam, Hong Kong and Beijing. Dozens of unprofitable routes between Japanese cities are also scrapped.

“We have to change (JAL) into a muscular company,” new JAL chairman Kazuo Inamori was quoted as telling a televised news conference.

The announcement did not include any job cuts.

JAL previously announced it would cut about one-third of its workforce of 47,000 or about 15,000, over a three-year period. On Wednesday, company spokesman Taro Nanba only referred to about 3600 employees who have applied for early voluntary retirement.

Japanese media reports have speculated staff cuts of more than 16,000 by March 2011 to speed up the restructuring process, as the company is still deeply in the red.

In February, JAL said it lost a record $US2 billion in the nine months through December, but that its results were improving.

JAL is finalising details of its restructuring plan, but is behind schedule and likely miss the end of June deadline for submission to the court, Nanba said, without elaborating.

JAL is looking for a boost from closer ties with alliance partner American Airlines. The two carriers are seeking government approval to work more closely in areas such as revenue sharing and carrying each other’s passengers.

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