First fully-flat seats for JAL in plane revamp

Japan Airlines, set to debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange this week after an $8 billion initial public offering, will install full-flat business class seats for the first time in a revamp of international services.

JAL, which made a record profit last fiscal year, will use new business, first-class, economy and premium economy seats on its international flights between London and Tokyo in January, gradually expanding to other European cities and New York, the carrier said in a statement in Tokyo today.

The airline, which will relist on September 19 , is adding planes and new routes as it expands international services following a government-backed restructuring under which it shed more than a third of its jobs and scrapped a quarter of its fleet after losing money three years out of four.

"We felt we were lagging behind other carriers where full- flat seats are standard," Jun Kato, executive officer in charge of marketing, said in an interview in Tokyo today. "This should help put us ahead and help boost demand." The revamp of all classes of seats is the first in about 10 years, Kato said.

The state-backed owner of JAL is selling 663 billion yen ($A8.04 billion) of shares and has received orders for all stock on offer, according to two people familiar with the situation.

JAL posted a record profit of 187 billion yen in the fiscal year ended March. The carrier benefited from a 35 billion yen tax break, saved about 46 billion yen from lower depreciation costs following asset writedowns and about 5 billion yen in interest payments because of debt forgiveness, according to a transport ministry paper.