Image: Olga Günter

To experience Japan Airlines’ newest offering, you won’t need a boarding pass – just some gardening gloves.

Japan Airlines (JAL) is getting into the agriculture business, taking the concept of the full-service carrier from the air to the ground – and into the very soil itself. In partnership with Chiba prefecture-based agricultural company Wago, the airline has launched JAL Agriport, a farm near Narita International Airport where visitors can pick strawberries, plant rice and dig for sweet potatoes.

By 2020, JAL hopes to be selling its own produce in shops as well as offering it to customers on board and in its airport lounges.

“We’ve been looking for a business model that will contribute toward activating the airport area and wanted to collaborate on a project with the city of Narita,” Masato Kunezaki, director of Business Creation Strategy at JAL, says. “Agritourism was one of the concepts that aligned with our goals.” JAL Agriport shows off the city of Narita and Chiba prefecture, which many experience only through the train window on the way to Tokyo from the airport.

If you want to taste the fruits of JAL’s labor, you won’t necessarily have to get your hands dirty: By 2020, JAL hopes to be selling its own produce in shops in Narita, as well as offering it to customers on board and in its airport lounges. And should demand exceed supply, the airline plans to tap Wago’s farming networks.

Wago already had a successful business model in place for the region, so teaming up with the company made sense, Kunezaki says. But that doesn’t mean the airline isn’t looking beyond the horizon: “It depends on the success of the initial Narita business, but we would like to expand this business to other parts of Japan, as well as to an overseas location.”

Airfield Agriculture was originally published in the 8.4 September/October issue of APEX Experience magazine.

Jordan juggles deadlines across various time zones as he writes about travel, culture, entertainment, and technology.