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China-Japan diplomatic spat impacts flight frequencies, capacity
Sim Kok Chwee, Singapore, September 26, 2012

AIRLINES are scaling back flight frequencies and capacity on Japan-China routes due to the ongoing diplomatic spat between China and Japan, which has already caused travel between both countries to nosedive (see TTG Asia e-daily, September 24).


Hainan Airlines has, since September 20, cancelled its twice-weekly service between Beijing and Okinawa.


All Nippon Airways is reducing capacity to Beijing from Osaka-Kansai (from October 17-24, except October 19 and between October 29 and 31) by downsizing the aircraft from a Boeing 767-300ER to a 737-700. The same equipment change will also affect flights from Tokyo-Narita to Beijing (October 18-31 except October 24). On flights from Tokyo-Haneda to Beijing, which currently operates with a 777-200ER, capacity will be reduced with the deployment of the 767-200ER (October 17-24 except October 19).


Japan Airlines (JAL) will trim service frequencies on the Osaka-Kansai to Shanghai-Pudong and Tokyo-Narita to Beijing routes. Both routes are now served twice daily, but from October 10-27 they will only be operated once daily. The thrice-daily Tokyo-Narita to Shanghai-Pudong service will be operated twice daily during this period.


The spat has also cost JAL 6,500 cancelled bookings from China and a further 5,500 from Japan between September and November, reported the Nikkei Business Daily.


Meanwhile, China Eastern Airlines has postponed the inauguration of four weekly flights between Shanghai-Pudong and Sendai to February 2, 2013. This service, which will be served by an Airbus A320, was supposed to commence on October 18.


According to China’s Xinhua news agency, Japan’s tourism industry is likely to be hurt by travel cancellations. It reported that over a million of Chinese travelled to Japan in 2011, a drop of 35 per cent over 2010.


Chinese tourists are among the highest spenders in Japan and spent an estimated 196.4 billion yen (US$2.43 billion) there last year, accounting for almost a quarter of the total spending by foreign travellers. This places the Chinese as the largest spenders by country, according to data from the Japan Tourism Agency.

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