Japan Airlines Co. on Wednesday tapped former flight attendant Mitsuko Tottori to become its first female president in April.

Tottori, 59, senior managing executive officer, will replace current President Yuji Akasaka, 62, who will become chairman, the airline said in a statement.

Japan Airlines Co. President Yuji Akasaka (L) and senior managing executive officer and former flight attendant Mitsuko Tottori are pictured at a press conference in Tokyo on Jan. 17, 2024. (Kyodo)

The announcement coincides with heightened attention on the airline's cabin crews, who recently played a pivotal role in the safe evacuation of all 379 people on board a burning JAL A350 jetliner following a collision with a Japan Coast Guard aircraft at Tokyo's Haneda airport earlier this month.

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, Tottori said she hopes to run the company with safety as her top priority, as she has spent most of her career in the departments that deal with passenger well-being and customer services.

"Safety is the foundation of airlines. I hope to tackle the issue of customer safety with renewed resolve," she said.

At the same press conference, Akasaka, president since 2018, said he had aimed to pass the baton to a successor after navigating the company through the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, denying the collision affected his decision.

"I'm convinced she will be able to boost JAL Group's corporate value by always prioritizing customer needs and drawing the maximum strength from our employees," he said.

Tottori joined a predecessor company to JAL in 1985 and soon began working as a flight attendant. She has been a senior managing executive officer since April 2023.

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