Asiana Feels Chill in Air Travel From Frosty South Korea-Japan Ties
South Korea's second-largest full-fledged carrier does not currently have plans to discontinue any routes to Japan, but it is monitoring the situation, a spokesman at Asiana Airlines told Reuters.
(Image for representation/REUTERS)
Seoul: South Korea's Asiana Airlines Inc said on Tuesday it plans to switch to smaller planes for some of its Japan routes starting September due to declining demand amid a worsening diplomatic and economic row between South Korea and Japan.
The country's second-largest full-fledged carrier does not currently have plans to discontinue any routes to Japan, but it is monitoring the situation, a spokesman at Asiana Airlines told Reuters.
Asiana Airlines said it will fly smaller aircraft for three routes to Japan's Osaka, Fukuoka and Okinawa departing from the country's capital Seoul.
Last month, Japan tightened controls of exports of high-tech materials to South Korea, in apparent retaliation for a South Korean court ruling over wartime forced labour. Such disputes have prompted a widespread boycott of Japanese products and services, from beer to clothes and travel in South Korea.
South Korea's airline and tourism firms have been grappling with rising competition and falling travel demand to Japan - a destination that had been popular among younger tourists.
Korean visitors to Japan tripled over the last five years, and in 2018 accounted for 24.2% of total visitors, making them the second largest after visitors from China, according to JapanNational Tourism Organisation data. But latest figures showed South Korean visitors during the first half of this year were 4% down on year-ago levels.
South Korea's top carrier Korean Air Lines Co Ltd on Monday said it will suspend flights between the South Korean city of Busan and Japan's Sapporo from Sept. 3, citing lean demand.
Even before the row erupted, several budget carriers including T'way Air Co Ltd and Eastar Jet had announced plans to cut unprofitable routes between the two countries from mid-August.
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