Korean Carriers Cut Japan Flights Due to Weak Yen

Korean Air and Asiana Airlines are decreasing the number of flights to Japan, once among the most lucrative routes, as the yen continues to weaken.

Last year, 2.75 million Japanese tourists visited Korea, down 22 percent compared to 2012.

Asiana decided to halt twice daily flights from Busan to Osaka on Feb. 21 and recently obtained approval from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. An Asiana spokesman said, "Due to overall deterioration in profitability in flights to Japan, we decided to shut down money-losing routes."

Korean Air will halt its three flights a week from Incheon to Shizuoka on March 30.

A Korean Air spokesman said the route is being dropped due to a "decline in passengers," but added it could be revived if demand rises again.

Routes to Japan have served as cash cows for Korean airlines since they fetched relatively high fares despite the short distances. But the weak yen has led to a decline in Japanese visitors to Korea, while competition has been heating up to attract Korean fliers to low-cost carriers.

On top of that, radiation fears have kept many Koreans from visiting Japan. Korean Air and Asiana both blame a drop in passengers on Korea-Japan routes for their deteriorating profits last year.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 10, 2014 11:09 KST