A new episode

JAS: the end of the rainbow

The strong rise in passenger numbers and ongoing aviation deregulation, especially in the USA, led the Japanese government in 1986 to the decision to abolish the 45-47 System. It was replaced by a new system, aimed at stimulating competition to a certain degree, that became known as double- and triple-tracking. This system made it possible for two or even three different airlines to serve the same route, provided the number of passengers exceeded specific minima. The regulation on ticket fares was loosened as well but generally a lot of constraints remained in force. This was partly due to the physical (im)possibilities of airports like Tokyo-Haneda and Osaka-Itami, situated in the middle of urban areas and heavily loaded with air traffic by now.

For Toa Domestic this change of rules would again have a structural impact. The new system allowed for international flights and by September '86 the first charter flight left Osaka for Seoul-Kimpo. In fact, the area of business had been widened from Japan to the whole of eastern Asia, and possibly further, and soon the 'Domestic' part of the name seemed not to be very appropriate anymore. Conclusions were drawn and on April 1, 1988 the company adopted a new identity: JAS - Japan Air System had been born! Again, the Japanese version of the name was not a full translation and on countless instances announcements concerning " Nihon Air System" could be heard in the many airport terminals and of course onboard the aircraft. The Airbus Rainbow colour scheme was one of little things to be kept from the previous episode, and with some adaptions became the outfit for JAS. Both English and Japanese titles were applied to the fuselage and as expected 'JAS' was printed diagonally on the vertical stabilizer. These three letters also became the logo - probably quite daring at that time in a country of traditions like Japan - and the TDA logo had to give way to a modest Japanese flag on the fuselage. The YS-11s and DC-9s in white with red and green were being repainted without any hurry, by the start of the nineteen-nineties some were still flying with just the new titles over the old colours. The A300s and MD-81s did not need much of a change, but they had to do without any logo for a while after some discussion had risen on the issue of JAS also standing for Japan Agricultural Standard...

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The JAS Peter Pan Flight JA8551 in prosperous times, on a charter flight to Australia. (Sydney-Kingsford Smith, October 1995, Morris Biondi)

Business went well in the first halve of the new decade. Seoul became a regular destination, February 1990 saw JAS starting on the Tokyo-Singapore route and in July 1991 even Tokyo-Honolulu was added. The fleet had been reinforced with two new DC-10s that were to stay until the end of the century. This order was dwarfed however by over twenty brand new A300-600s that continue to fly out of Haneda to this day, to the whole of Japan and some neighboring countries. The narrow-bodies performed well too, the inventory of MD-81s was nearly doubled and supplemented with eight MD-87s.

In the home country, the number of double-tracks had risen from 3 to 22 and that of triple-tracks from 7 to 29 when compared to ten years earlier, indicating the growth in domestic air travel. The new airports Narita and Kansai relieved the pressure on the old airfields of Tokyo and Osaka. It was around this time that China was also put on the JAL route map, starting with the Kansai-Guangzhou service in October 1995 and later followed by Hong Kong and Kunming, plus again Guangzhou and Xian but then departing from Tokyo. Additionally a number of charters were flown, to Australia and Canada for example, and it was only logical that eyes were laid on the Boeing 747.


48315 JA8550 30mar88-18dec97 To Harlequin Air. Now with Northwest Airlines (N243NW).
48316 JA8551 29jul88-01aug88 For three days, then to Korean Air Lines.
48316 JA8551 25jun89-21apr00 Back from Korean. Now with Northwest Airlines (N244NW).

  [1] Noted in new JAL Group colours.


49464 JA8278 02jun88
49465 JA8279 28jul89
49466 JA8280 29jun90
49467 JA8281 10aug90
53039 JA8370 27jun91 [1] jul2003
53040 JA8371 11aug91 [1] oct2003
53041 JA8372 12dec91 [1] 10oct03
53042 JA8373 09mar92

  [1] Noted in new JAL Group colours.


602 JA8375 25apr91 [1] jul03
617 JA8376 18nov91
621 JA8377 27jan92 [1] 13nov02
637 JA8558 28jul92
641 JA8559 24sep92
670 JA8561 21jan93 [1] may03
679 JA8562 08mar93 [1] 24feb03
683 JA8563 16jun93 [1] jun03
703 JA8564 06dec94
711 JA8565 15dec93
724 JA8527 11apr95
729 JA8529 20jul94 [1] feb04
730 JA8566 01sep95
737 JA8573 29sep94 Initially stored, operational mar95.
740 JA8574 30nov94
753 JA8657 15may96
770 JA8659 07jun96
783 JA011D 07may98
797 JA012D 01mar00
836 JA014D 26aug02
837 JA015D 25sep02
838 JA016D 25nov02 [1] at delivery + JAS logo.

DC-10 JA8551 roamed the skies as the 'JAS Peter Pan Flight' for a while during 1995, having Disney characters and some extra titles painted on the forward fuselage. A300-600 JA8562 was advertising the isotonic drink 'Pocari Sweat' for over a year, carrying this brand name on a blue and white fuselage as of March '98. Another Airbus, JA8377, appeared by mid 2003 displaying the picture of New York Yankees baseball player Hideki Matsui, promoting the 'Dream Skyward' campaign.

Naturally, Nihon Air System also acquired the TDA helicopter fleet and after a few years the KH500D had been replaced by a BK-117 and two SA365 Dolphins had been added.

Last updated 03.12.07