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A Japan Airlines 787-9 departing. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Japan Domestic Demand Increases, Full Recovery Expected by October

According to local media, Japan Airlines is expecting a full recovery of its domestic demand as early as this October following the diminished demand caused by the coronavirus crisis.

“We expect to recover to 80 percent in August and fully operate in line with our normal schedule around October,” Shunsuke Honda, an executive officer of Japan Airline said. He mentioned that the country is seeing a surge in travel demand since recent travel restrictions were lifted.

In response to a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases in Tokyo in recent weeks, Honda believes the airline can increase the number of flights it operates or use larger aircraft to avoid fully booked flights.

In addition, Japan Airlines has relaunched service to Singapore from July 3 and will commence a twice-weekly service to Dalian, China on July 9. However, most of the carrier’s international routes are still suspended. According to its website, the carrier canceled 99 and 96 percent of flights to China and Southeast Asia respectively in June.

As a result of the strong travel demand in the country, the airline has announced that 66% of its domestic scheduled flights will be resumed between July 17 and July 31. However, the social distancing policy doesn’t apply to the aircraft as the middle seat will not be blocked.

Japan has been maintaining international travel restrictions, with most foreigners banned from entering the country. This includes U.S., Canada and European Union citizens. However, Japan has cooperated with Vietnam, a country with a low infection rate. Earlier, a charter flight carried 150 passengers from Tokyo to Ho Chi Minh City, in which passengers were mainly business travelers and took a temperature check before leaving the country.

The strict travel restrictions are putting a strain on Japanese airlines. ZIPAIR, a brand new budget carrier was expected to launch in May. The new carrier is Japan Airlines’ subsidiary and owns two Boeing 787, which aims to serve Bangkok and Seoul in the early phase. But, the airline decided to postpone the commencement date due to the coronavirus. In June, the airline launched a cargo flight to Bangkok.

In the meantime, Peach Aviation, All Nippon Airways’ low-cost carrier has resumed its domestic operations. In addition, the airline will expand its route map during the pandemic. In August, two brand new domestic routes will be launched, including Tokyo Narita to Kushiro and Miyazaki.

Earlier, Takeaki Mori, CEO of Peach Aviation said, “I think demand for domestic flights will increase as people who used to travel abroad will switch to domestic trips.”

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