July 30, 2019 12:12
Budget airlines and even flag carrier Korean Air are cutting down flights to Japan amid a dearth of bookings exacerbated by a widening boycott of the island country here.
Korean Air on Monday said it will halt flights between Busan and Sapporo from Sept. 3 because there have not been enough bookings. The flag carrier has been considering the move since May due to competition from budget carriers.
The number of flights to Japan increased 48 percent this year, but passenger load grew only 34 percent.
"There was not much demand for flights to Japan from provincial airports in the first place, and the recent spat [between Korea and Japan] just added fuel to the fire," a Korean Air spokesman said. "It's not certain at this moment if and when we will resume them."
Earlier, budget carriers Air Busan and T'way Air cut down on the number of flights to Japan due to intensifying competition. T'way Air halted flights between Muan, South Jeolla Province and Oita last week and will scrap its Daegu-Kumamoto and Busan-Saga routes in September.
Eastar Jet plans to halt its Busan-Sapporo and Busan-Osaka routes the same month.
One airline insider said, "Flights to Japan have been our cash cows, but now they need to be adjusted due to oversupply."
Soured Korea-Japan relations and a boycott of Japanese products are also affecting airlines' business.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com