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    JAL plans to address safety concerns

    Japan Airlines is about to pour ¥60 billion (US $550 million) into tightening safety standards:

    JAL has announced a plan for corporate reform of which the pillars will include a ¥60 billion investment in increasing flight safety from fiscal 2006 to 2010. In addition to increasing its competitive edge by introducing state-of-the-art new aircraft, the company will implement cuts in remunerations to board members and base salaries for employees.

    There are plans to retire thirty Boeing 747s currently in service, to add smaller 737s, and to increase the number of international routes, especially to China. The safety measures are set out more vaguely–the hiring of more technicians and a more systematic training program. Of course, JAL didn’t come up with this idea on its own: the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Infrastructure has given it increasingly frequent warnings over procedural failures that nearly resulted in incidents. The publicity has not been good. But if JAL is serious (and I trust it to get Atsushi here and back at least once a month, so I hope so), this could be a welcome and too-uncommon case of a Japanese company’s finding and addressing flaws in its safety procedures before a disaster happens.

    3 Responses to “JAL plans to address safety concerns”

    1. Zak says:

      Given that JAL is in many ways the flagship Japanese carrier and a symbol of Japan itself (complete with high prices and ultra-snooty stewardesses), I think their persistent safety problems are a good symbol of the end of the (myth of?) Japanese ultra-competence and thoroughness.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Sweetie, you’re a tall, good-looking white guy who speaks Japanese. Just smile very slightly flirtatiously and ask for the Nikkei when they’re coming around with the newspapers, and no JAL stewardess will ever be snooty to you again. Works for me every time; one was so solicitous I half expected her to ask to sit in my lap. (Bonus: the Nikkei is the paper I’d ask for anyway)

      I think you’re right that the JAL problems, like the JR West derailment in April, are especially significant precisely because the transportation system has been such a focal point of national pride.

    3. Zak says:

      Actually, I’ve always found ANA stewardesses much more amenable to flirting. JAL stewardesses tend to be very cold, in my experience, as though they were so proud of themselves for getting a job at JAL that they regretted having to serve the hoi-poloi.

      Err.., at least that’s what I *hear* about ANA…

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