Mitsuko Tottori has been named the new president of Japan Airlines (JAL). She is the first woman to ascend to the top of the company after a career progressing through its management structure. 

Tottori’s appointment was described as “deeply symbolic” because Japan’s workforce gender gap is almost double the OECD average and the highest in the G7.

Women in Japan typically earn only 78% of men’s earnings for the same work. The promotion is the second time a woman has been elevated to the top job at a major airline in as many weeks. Joanna Geraghty was made CEO of JetBlue after a long career at the US carrier. 

Tottori has worked at JAL for much of her career. She began at the company as cabin crew in 1985, before progressing through senior management roles. She is currently a senior managing executive director and will start her new role on 1 April. 

“There are female employees out there who are struggling with their career steps or going through big life events. I hope my appointment as a president can encourage them, or give them the courage to take the next step,” the incoming president said. 

JAL set itself a target for women to make up 30% of managers across the group by the end of the fiscal year to March 2026. One of the key challenges for the start of Tottori’s tenure will be the aftermath of the recent incident at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

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By GlobalData

The airline said it expects to lose at least $100m after the deadly accident. 

In a statement, JAL said Tottori boasted a “high level of insight and field experience” in safety and operations through her years with the airline.