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A Discussion with Mr.Kiyoshi Kato of Japan Airlines, The 'Wings of Japan'

Industries | 6 July 2021

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Japan Airlines was founded and developed in Japan and wants to become the World’s Most Preferred and Valued Airline, and will continue to connect Japan and the world as the “Wings of Japan” with gratitude and determination in their hearts. To find out how they are managing – and keeping to their corporate goals during this trying pandemic, NOW! Jakarta’s Alistair Speirs spoke to Japan Airlines Country Manager for Indonesia Kiyoshi Kato.

How quickly were JAL able to adapt after the beginning of the Covid pandemic and what were the new protocols that were put in place?

Before and after the flight, we are disinfecting the aircraft frequently, including the adjustment of how we serve passenger through JAL Fly Safe.

Please refer to: https://www.jal.co.jp/jp/en/info/2020/other/flysafe/
In addition,  JAL provides ‘JAL Covid-19 Cover’ since December 2020 to make Japan Airlines customers feel safe and comfortable during the flight.

https://www.jal.co.jp/ar/en/info/travelalerts/flysafe/jalcoronacover/

At the airport check-in counter, we negotiated with the airport building and set up a partition ahead of other companies. At the time of boarding, we introduced a non-contact ticket gate device.

Regarding our staff, since the beginning of COVID-19, JAL in general, especially in Jakarta is adapting the health protocols that implemented by the Indonesia Government. And we have introduced a team system divided into two groups in all sections so that the operation will not stop even if a staff infection occurs. As a result, JAL recovered several flights faster and keeps more than other airlines even in this difficult situation.

We understand that all the safest procedures have been put in place, but has the customer experience in terms of comfort and convenience been compromised in any way ?

Although we put the adjustments on our service, we are not reducing our standards on how we serve the customers. Basically, all the service is almost the same as before, but only mandatory mask for the passenger when they are not eating in the aircraft. On the check-in counter and queue, we are strictly advising passengers to maintain physical distancing.

What are the next steps you are taking to get all planes back in the sky with - hopefully- commercial payloads? 
This pandemic has hits our industry hard, and we are totally aware that the recovery of our industry will depend on the immigration restrictions from the countries that we fly to. We believe that after the cases of this COVID-19 pandemic start decreasing, the vaccinations begin to dominate the citizens around the world and the immigration restrictions are starting to relax, soon enough we hope that we can see the airplanes are crowding around the sky like they used to.

What are the most important lessons learnt from the whole covid pandemic experience? 
JAL has provided a variety of advanced services based on a service foundation that gives passengers a sense of safety and relief. By doing so, we have aimed to become the most beloved and selected airline in the world.

We learned that any preventive measures are legal to be implemented as long as our customer is feeling safe and relief assured. As a company, we hope that this pandemic will help us to learn and be ready if the similar situation will happen in the future through several alternatives.

Which sectors have kept going in the crisis as the international routes were often compromised badly? 

Fortunately, our cargo demand recovered earlier, but passenger demand remains at a low level in both the business and leisure sectors. After the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are paying particular attention to whether business demand will recover as before.

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Omotenashi: “The Soul of Japan”

Renowned for his influence on chanoyu, the ‘way of tea’, Sen no Rikyû established guidelines for taking care of guests. He espoused that only through dedication with a pure heart can you share a special moment with your guest. With this, Sen no Rikyû established the foundations of Japanese omotenashi.

Omotenashi is hard to define. Often translated into English as ‘hospitality’, omotenashi is much more. It’s a completely selfless approach to receiving guests, where a perfect balance of attentive care and unobtrusiveness is achieved to create an intimate environment of trust, relaxation and respect between those sharing the moment.

Tightly woven into the fabric of Japanese culture for centuries, the spirit of omotenashi can be felt and enjoyed everywhere. This unique brand of Japanese hospitality is sure to capture your heart and leave an ever-lasting impression.

Omotenashi at JAL

In tune with the spirit of omotenashi established by Sen no Rikyû, JAL strives to become the world’s favorite airline through our high quality and unparalleled service. All of us at JAL, from the ground staff through cabin crew to the JAL staff behind the scenes, are inspired by the spirit of omotenashi to provide passengers with the ultimate travel experience, as well as giving them a taste of Japan.