Japan Airlines (JAL) has announced that it will invest in a new Colorado-based startup company that is looking to build a supersonic passenger airplane aimed at business travelers. JAL has agreed to invest $10 million in Boom to help get the company off the ground. Boom is creating a passenger jet capable of flying 1,416 miles per hour, which will be able to take travelers from New York to London in about three hours. The company is planning on testing its new plane in Colorado this year.
But JAL is not simply offering a monetary investment. The company will also help educate the startup, offering consulting about aircraft design and passenger experience. In the statement announcing their partnership, the two companies said: “JAL will provide its knowledge and experience as an airline to support Boom in developing the aircraft. The two companies will cooperate closely to realize faster and more convenient air travel.” JAL also has the option to purchase 20 of Boom’s new planes for its own use when they hit the market sometime in the next decade.
This partnership means big things for Colorado, as Boom also hopes its planes will benefit its home state. The supersonic jet will be able to fly from Denver to Tokyo in under seven hours, a flight that currently takes more than 12 hours. The new flight will offer greater access for tourists and business travelers to and from Asia, as Colorado continues to expand its economic ties with Japan. Japan and Colorado are linked by the sister state relationship between Colorado and Yamagata Prefecture, as well as ten sister city partnerships, including one between Denver and Gifu. Japanese tourists spent $437 million in Colorado in 2014 alone, while Japanese companies have invested $439 million in Colorado since 2003. Built on these already strong ties, JAL’s new investment will surely bring an economic boom to Colorado.
Savannah Shih is a research intern at the East-West Center and a graduate student of Asian Studies at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.