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By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (February 8, 2002 – Pacific Daily News)---Japan Airlines expects that its Guam-bound passenger numbers will recover as early as April to levels before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the airline's top Guam executive said yesterday.

''It's catching up already,'' Makoto Iijima, JAL vice president and regional manager for Guam and Micronesia, said of the airline's passenger load.

The airline is predicting complete recovery of its passenger numbers throughout its international network by September or October this year.

He said Guam will have a quicker recovery, in part because of the island's geographic closeness to Japan.

''We will try our best to push the recovery. I'm sure Guam will have quicker, earlier recovery,'' he said.

Guam's recovery will happen as early as April, at the latest July, Iijima said.

More Flights

Along with that hope, the airline is moving ahead with a plan to add one flight every day from Tokyo to Guam beginning July 15.

A Boeing 767, with more than 200 seats, will be used for the additional daily flight, which will operate a night schedule, he said. That's in addition to the daily daytime flight from Tokyo to Guam using a jumbo jet, Iijima said.

''Since we have a jumbo operating in the daytime, it might be good for our customers to have another flight operated at night,'' he said.

The airline's plans for Guam remain unaffected by the recent corporate changes at Japan Airlines.

The airline issued a press release yesterday stating the details of its corporate structure in connection with the merger of Japan Airlines, the largest Japanese airline, and No. 3 Japan Air System Co., or JAS.

The merger would give them nearly half of the domestic market and allow them to compete better for international customers, according to wire reports.

Changes at corporate will not have any adverse effect on Guam staff, service and flights, Iijima said.


Besides the merger and the optimistic passenger load predictions, JAL also is in the news for earning the 2002 Airline of the Year award from Air Transport World, the leading monthly magazine covering the global airline industry.

The magazine's editors recognized JAL for remaking itself into an efficient, aggressive competitor, shaking off its traditional ways of doing business, according to a press release from the airline quoting Air Transport World.

Despite the business downturn after Sept. 11, JAL held true to its vision by fashioning a merger agreement with Japan Air System that will make Japan Airlines the third-largest carrier in the world, the release stated.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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