Business Spotlight: Japan Airlines Part 1

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. transpacific / ˌtræns pəˈsɪf ɪk / (adj.) – going to the other side of the Pacific Ocean

    We took a transpacific flight to Canada.

  2. flag carrier / flæg ˈkær i ər / (n.) – an air or sea transportation company that’s owned or run by the government and often has the name of the country it belongs to

    Yemenia is Yemen’s flag carrier airline.

  3. fortunes / ˈfɔr tʃəns / (n.) – someone’s or something’s good and bad luck

    Her fortunes changed many times, but she never ever gave up.

  4. tragic / ˈtrædʒ ɪk / (adj.) – causing or involving great sadness, usually because of death or suffering

    Amy and Ben lost their parents in a tragic accident 10 years ago.

  5. reputation / ˌrɛp yəˈteɪ ʃən / (n.) – the way people think of someone or something

    Michael doesn’t have a good reputation, so I’m not excited to work with him on the new project.


Read the text below.

Now that we are over a year into the pandemic, it has been a long time since many of us have been on an airplane. However, if you were to take a flight, it is quite likely that it would be with Japan Airlines, the country’s first airline and still today its major international carrier.

Japan Airlines was established in August 1951. Though it was originally a private company, the government took over the business in 1953. The company spent a few years as a domestic airline before launching its first international flight to San Francisco in 1954.

By 1965, Japan Airlines was flying to many of the world’s major travel destinations and making half of its revenue from transpacific flights. International success was then ensured when the government named it Japan’s flag carrier airline, taking away any major competition for international travel.

But fortunes changed in the ’80s. In 1985, other companies were allowed to provide international travel routes, leading to greater competition. 1985 was also the year of the tragic Flight 123 crash, which dramatically affected Japan Airlines’ reputation. As a consequence, the company underwent a major reshuffle and privatized in 1987. (Jasmin Hayward)

To be continued…

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Japan Airlines was originally a private company, but the government took it over in 1953. What do you think are the pros and cons of a government taking over a company? Which do you trust more, private companies or government-owned companies? Why? Discuss.
  • What services, if any, do you think should be owned by the government (ex. public transportation, electricity)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • International success was ensured when the government named JAL Japan’s flag carrier airline, taking away any major competition for international travel. Do you think it’s a good thing for any business to have no competition? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • In 1985, other companies were allowed to provide international flights, leading to greater international competition. In your opinion, what international airlines are the best? What international airlines are the worst? If you’ve never flown internationally before, what airlines have you heard good/bad things about from friends and family? Discuss.