The airline industry in Japan has become another victim of the ongoing territorial dispute with China as both All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) have decided to significantly reduce their number of routes after widespread cancellations. The tensions over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands have already been felt in tourism levels, with both Japanese and Chinese travelers scrapping plans to visit each other’s countries, and now the airlines are being left with empty seats and unprofitable flights. ANA and JAL have both stated that they will be either suspending routes, or using smaller aircrafts for trips to Beijing.
Spokespeople for the airlines say the major factor is the number of those in China canceling their flights, however the number of Japanese doing the same is starting to increase. ANA says its passengers have cancelled their reservations for a total of 37,000 seats in the Japan-China market for the period of September through November. The airline hasn’t eliminated any flights, but is instead replacing the 767s used to fly from Narita International Airport and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport to Beijing with smaller 737s. Likewise, the 777-200 on the Tokyo Haneda to Beijing route has been changed to the 767. These changes are scheduled for different period on each route, but will all take place in the second half of October.
JAL, on the other hand, is doing some route cutting, starting with one of its daily flights between Narita and Beijing. Also being suspended are one of the three routes from Narita to Shanghai, and of two from Kansai to Shanghai, all scheduled to go into effect from October 10th to the 27th. Roughly 14,600 seats have been canceled from JAL customers for the September through November period, with spokespeople stating most of them being leisure trips rather than business.
[via Aviation Week]