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Japan Airlines CEO describes weak yen as ‘big problem’

Japan’s weak currency is a “big problem,” Japan Airlines CEO Mitsuko Tottori said in a group interview, adding that a stronger rate than current levels of around ¥155 per dollar would be better.

“We often discuss that the yen will be good at the 130 level,” Tottori said Wednesday at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo, adding that much of the airline’s spending is in foreign currencies. “It’s a big problem.”

Tottori, a former flight attendant, became the first female president of Japan Airlines on April 1. The airline last month announced an order to buy 42 new Boeing and Airbus SE jets in a multi-billion dollar order to expand its international network. Japan’s currency, which is at its lowest level in 34 years, is also having a negative impact on outbound travel, Tottori said.

Although Airbus accounted for the bulk of recent aircraft orders, Japan Airlines won’t rely solely on the European aircraft maker to build its fleet, Tottori said.

Japan Airlines will try to ensure its Boeing orders are delivered on time; The American manufacturer has come under increasing scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators following a near-catastrophic blowout of a 737 Max 9 fuselage panel in flight in early January.

“We continue to have reliable relationships with Boeing and believe the company will be able to overcome the ongoing problems,” Tottori said. “We have no intention of leaning towards Airbus and will make choices that fit our business plans.”



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