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Japan's newest low-cost carrier is hiring around 100 staff

[TOKYO] At a time most airlines are shedding jobs, there is one that's hiring - a new low-cost carrier called Zipair Tokyo.

The unit of Japan Airlines will take on around 100 employees from the broader JAL group as it launches passenger flights between Tokyo and cities including Bangkok and Seoul, a JAL spokesman said Friday.

The budget airline started passenger flights last week after a delay of about five months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Its first service, from Tokyo to Seoul, wasn't exactly crowded, with only two travelers aboard, according to local media reports.

Zipair, which started cargo-only flights in June, plans to add two Boeing 787 jets in fiscal 2021, the spokesman said. The new employees it's hiring will be mainly flight attendants, but will also conduct ground operations, including customer-service functions. Zipair also plans to hire some pilots from outside the group.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost in the aviation industry as Covid-19 decimates air travel. However, Japan Airlines looks to be sticking to the philosophy of its former chairman, Kazuo Inamori, of protecting jobs at all costs. The carrier hasn't cut any positions or furloughed workers, according to the spokesman, instead preferring to swap employees around from overstaffed units.

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Whether that's tenable remains to be seen. Although Japan's domestic routes are expected to recover to about 90 per cent of pre-Covid levels by the end of March, overseas routes won't start to pick up again until mid-2021, according to a Goldman Sachs report.

Employees of Jetstar Japan KK, in which JAL holds a 50 per cent stake, will also be eligible to apply for the Zipair positions. Yomiuri reported on Zipair's hiring plan earlier.

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