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JAL Group celebrates 50th Anniversary of International Flights

Travel News Asia 2 February 2004

Today, February 2, 2004, is not only the 50th anniversary of the first Japan Airlines' international scheduled flight, but also is the 50th anniversary of the first post-war international scheduled flight operated by any Japanese carrier. It was on this day, 50 years ago, that that fledgling Japan Airlines - already since October 1951 flying domestic routes in Japan - took to the world's skies as ''The Wings of the New Japan''.

To celebrate this double anniversary, JAL has prepared two aircraft with unique commemorative liveries.

Both aircraft are B747-400s, each one decorated with special life-size Douglas DC6B 32.5 meter long decals on the 70.7 meter long 747 fuselages, showing the difference in size between the 1950's 36-seat propeller driven aircraft and the 393-seat wide-bodied 4-engine jet.

JAL's - and Japan's - first international scheduled flight was on February 2, 1954 when a Japan Airlines' Douglas DC-6B four engine propeller-powered airliner took off from Haneda for San Francisco via Wake Island and Honolulu.

Later today (February 2, 2004) one of the specially decorated aircraft will fly to Honolulu as a special JAL 747-400 charter flight carrying a group of some 250 JAL retirees, members of the airline's frequent flyer programme and media guests to commemorate JAL's entry to the skies of the world. The decal carries the legend: JAL-HAWAII 50th ANNIVERSARY FLIGHT. After the commemorative flight, the aircraft with its special livery will operate on JAL international routes.

On February 5, the second specially decorated 747-400 will commemorate JAL's first flight to Okinawa, which took place on February 5, 1954. At the time, Okinawa was still under U.S. occupation and technically this was an international service. The B747-400, with the DC6B design and the caption: ''First Flight to Okinawa - February 5 1954'' - will operate as JL933, a scheduled service on the Tokyo-Naha (Okinawa) route. Okinawa returned to Japanese jurisdiction in 1972. It will subsequently fly on JAL 's domestic trunk routes.

In JAL's 50th year of international operations the JAL Group serves an international network extending to 30 countries and territories, 118 airports and 245 routes, carrying last year 12,760,000 passengers.

The JAL Group's Okinawa services now carry around 5 million passengers a year and make a vital economic and social contribution to island community.

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