Title

Japan Airlines: Turning around to take off again

Publication Type

Case

Year Completed

12-2017

Abstract

Set in 2013, this case discusses the challenges faced and overcome by JAL to turn around successfully from a situation of bankruptcy in 2009-2010. In 2009, JAL, Asia's largest airline by revenue and an icon of Japan Inc., was besieged by a severe cash crunch crisis. A skewed cost structure with too many aircraft, bloated workforce and unprofitable routes, aggressive expansion in non-core associated services, and the 2008 global economic crisis, had landed the airline with a debt load of over US$25 billion, an operating loss of US$518 million and a market valuation less than the price of a Boeing 747.

Kazuo Inamori, founder of the electronics leader Kyocera Corp, was tabbed as the new Chairman of the airline and set out to restructure the organisation. Within two years JAL had revived to become the world’s most profitable airline in 2011-12. In 2012, JAL’s initial public offering (IPO) at US$8.5 billion was the world’s largest after Facebook’s IPO, and the company was valued at US$8.72 billion.

Besides government intervention and support, three factors in particular contributed to JAL’s remarkable recovery: rationalisation of the cost structure through supply management and operational restructuring; change in the corporate culture inculcating shared values among all the employees; and the new management accounting system ‘AMOEBA’, to drive accountability across all levels and divisions.

However, Inamori’s stepping down in 2013 raised a few concerns: would JAL be able to stay committed to Inamori’s defined path of high profitability structure and people-oriented culture? Would it continue to learn from its mistakes in the past, and pursue sustainable growth?

This case is designed for use by both undergraduate and post graduate students. Through this case, participants will understand the significance of pursuing sustainable growth strategies, effective change management, and business process innovation. It will also be useful in establishing the role leadership plays, and the importance of succession planning for an organisation to be future ready.

Keyword(s)

Turnaround, Bankruptcy, Crisis Management, Change Management, Cost Structure, Leadership, Organisation Restructuring, Organisation Culture

Discipline

Aerospace Engineering | Automotive Engineering | Transportation

Data Source

Field Research

Industry

Airlines

Geographic Coverage

Japan

Temporal Coverage

2013

Education Level

Postgraduate; Undergraduate

Publisher

Singapore Management University

Case ID

SMU-17-0021

Comments

SMU Faculty/Staff can download the case and teaching note with your SMU login ID and Password via the following links:

For purchase of the case and supplementary materials via The Asia Learning Exchange (ALEx), please access the following links:

For purchase of the case and supplementary materials via The Case Centre, please access the following links:

Share

COinS