Weighty issue: Sumo wrestlers prompt Japan Airlines to add extra flight

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Japan Airlines proved that no load is too heavy. The airline quickly added an extra flight to its regular schedule on October 12, 2023 to accommodate a large group of sumo wrestlers.

The sumo wrestlers were scheduled to fly to Amami Airport (ASJ) to attend a sumo competition at the Special National Sports Festival on the island.

The heavy weight group was scheduled to take two JAL flights to Osaka on October 12, 2023  from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND) and Itami Airport in Osaka Prefecture (ITM).

While all was well passenger count-wise, when the airline calculated the passenger load by kilograms, some quick thinking was required to tackle a weighty problem.

Each sumo wrestler averages 120 kilograms in weight, almost double that of a regular Japanese passenger. Both flights used a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, each with a capacity of 165 passengers. JAL realized that both flights would be unable to carry the required amount of fuel due to weight restrictions.

Amami Airport has a short runway, so using a larger aircraft is not an option. Therefore, JAL had to add an extra flight from Haneda to evenly and safely disperse the weight between two flights.

JAL told Japan News by the Yomiuri Shimbun that it was “rare” for the airline to add an extra flight due to weight restrictions.

About 460 sumo wrestlers visited Amami island to attend the sports competition that began on October 14, 2023.

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