For travellers and local residents, the situation in Tokyo is deteriorating amid rolling power cuts, infrastructure problems and ongoing aftershocks, while rising concerns over the Fukushima nuclear plant has prompted several governments around the world to advise its residents to avoid travelling to Tokyo or leave the city/country entirely.
International and domestic air fares from Japan's main gateways, Tokyo Narita and Tokyo Haneda airport have spiked in several key markets in recent days as a growing number of people attempt to leave Japan. See related report: Airfares from Japan spike as travellers exit or move south, inbound fares drop
The situation is critical for the main Japanese carriers, Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA), which together control around 77% of the domestic market.
Japan domestic market seats per week - Mar-2011
|All Nippon Airways||1,021,110||40.6%|
|Skynet Asia Airways Co. Ltd||107,016||4.3%|
|Japan Transocean Air||90,380||3.6%|
|Star Flyer Inc.||64,324||2.6%|
|Japan Air Commuter Co. Ltd||59,276||2.4%|
|Oriental Air Bridge Co.||13,416||0.5%|
|Fuji Dream Airlines Co ltd||12,528||0.5%|
JAL and ANA together account for 22.3% of total international capacity to/from Tokyo, according to Innovata for flights scheduled for this month. The next biggest market share goes to US carriers at 14%. Delta (following its takeover of Northwest) is Japan's second biggest international carrier, while United is ninth largest.
See related report: Japan crisis: USA, China and South Korea most exposed to downturn in traffic
International flights to/from Japan and seats per week: Mar-2011
|Delta Air Lines||508||135,944||9.2%|
|Korean Air Lines||504||134,556||9.1%|
|All Nippon Airways||541||129,281||8.8%|
|Cathay Pacific Airways||205||69,926||4.7%|
|China Eastern Airlines||288||52,480||3.6%|
|China Southern Airlines||142||26,222||1.8%|
|Jeju Air Company||48||8,112||0.5%|
|Coast Air A.S.||42||6,258||0.4%|
|Hong Kong Express Airways||36||6,084||0.4%|
|Air New Zealand||18||5,052||0.3%|
|Virgin Atlantic Airways||14||4,312||0.3%|
|Air Macau Company Limited||24||3,524||0.2%|
|Hong Kong Airlines||14||3,514||0.2%|
|Scandinavian Airlines System||12||2,940||0.2%|
|Air Caledonie International||12||2,892||0.2%|
|Caribbean Star Airlines, Ltd.||12||2,724||0.2%|
|Jetstar Asia Airways||14||2,520||0.2%|
|AirAsia X Sdn. Bhd.||6||2,262||0.2%|
|Sri Lankan Airlines||6||1,570||0.1%|
|Air Tahiti Nui||4||1,000||0.1%|
|CEBU Pacific Air||6||936||0.1%|
|Spring Airlines Limited Corporation||6||894||0.1%|
|Pakistan International Airlines||4||736||0.0%|
|Miat - Mongolian Airlines||4||488||0.0%|
|Mandarin Airlines Ltd.||4||388||0.0%|
International airlines seeing solid near term demand, especially outbound - big question marks ahead
A total of 71 airlines serve Japan and some are making schedule changes in response to the situation in Japan. Many carriers are expressing deep concern about the unfolding situation in Japan, which accounts for 6-7% of global premium traffic.
- Air China: Announced it will cancel planned Chengdu–Tokyo Narita and Wuhan–Narita service, due to start on 27-Mar-2011. Both routes were planned to operate twice weekly (Chengdu to increase to three times weekly from Jul-2011). The carrier however stated it is using larger aircraft on Japan services this week;
- Cathay Pacific: Stated travel to Japan is showing declining levels of seat occupancy, while travel in the opposite direction is “persistently high”. CEO Tony Tyler stated: “At the moment, with the extra flights we’ve got, we’ve got enough seats to accommodate all the passengers who want to come back. But we’ll keep a very careful eye on demand and of course if we need to put more flights on we’ll do so. The longer-term financial, economic impact really remains to be seen, but clearly it will probably be something of significance because Japan’s a very important market for us. It’s very different from the old days. Thirty years ago Cathay Pacific got 30% of its revenue from Japan, but that is very, very different of course nowadays. It’s nothing like that, but it’s an important market to us";
- Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan stated demand has held up well despite natural disasters in key markets, including Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The LCC has been monitoring demand and could compensate for any reduction by either reducing service or slowing growth. The airline was continuing to fly its full schedule to Japan. However, he stated LCCs were likely to feel the impact of the Japanese disaster later than the full service airlines because of the immediacy with which the larger airlines would have to respond to the business travel segment. Mr Buchanan also did not rule out the possibility of consolidating its operations in Japan.
- Hawaiian Airlines: CEO and President Mark Dunkerley said cancellations have been “pretty modest”. Bookings are mostly handled by travel partners in Japan and they “continue to demand the level of service that we’ve already been providing and intending to provide in the coming months," he said. The carrier stated it would continue its Japan schedule and expansion plans, according to spokesman Keoni Wagner. Meanwhile, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie predicted the economic consequences will be severe for Hawaii. “It’s going to be terrible. It’s going to be rough. It’s something that we have to come to grips with," he said. Hawaii is the top US destination for the Japanese, with more than 1.2 million visitors in 2010 contributing USD1.9 billion or 17% of the economy;
- Philippine Airlines: Stated it may have to review projections for the fiscal year starting Apr-2011 to consider the impact of the Japan situation;
- Lufthansa-ANA: Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz stated Lufthansa’s planned alliance with All Nippon Airways may be affected by recent events. “Preparations were going according to plan and approval of the competition authorities in Japan was expected around mid-year. This might change due to current developments,” he said;
- Malaysia Airlines: MD Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin said the earthquake adds to the aviation industry's challenges for 2011 even though its impact would not be as severe as the Iceland volcanic eruption in Apr-2010. He added that it was too soon to determine how the quake will affect carriers' earnings, but will certainly be a factor weighing down profitability come the end of a "challenging" 2011.
- SAS: “To Scandinavia from Japan we’ve had quite full flights with just some seats left,” spokeswoman Elisabeth Manzi said;
- Singapore Airlines: Stated it would delay the launch of A380 services to Narita and Los Angeles due to "lesser demand" for travel to Japan. "In view of the developments in Japan, Singapore Airlines is postponing the introduction of Airbus A380 services on flights SQ11 and SQ12 between Singapore and Los Angeles via Tokyo Narita until further notice," the carrier said. The service will continue to be operated with B747-400 aircraft. The carrier had originally planned to launch the A380 service later this month;
- United Continental: Stated it has had a “measurable decline” in US-Japan travel demand. The change is part of a “modest” drop in Japan travel, spokesman Andrew Ferraro said. United and ContinentalGuam airlines have kept their schedule of 183 weekly departures to Japan except for a route between and Sendai, where the airport was damaged. United Continental is the first major US carrier to say it has noticed a downturn in travel demand to Japan.
Sources from 17-Mar-2011: Xinhua, Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Airline Route, Itar-Tass, Gulf News, Singapore Business Times, Huffington Post, NBC Chicago, Fox Business, abs-cbnNEWS.com, Kyodo, IANS, New York Post, Prime-Tass, Bernama, CNBC, Agence France-Presse, LA Times, Post Media
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