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Connecting traffic is key for JAL and ANA as border restrictions limit visitors

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Japan’s major airlines are calling for the government to act more quickly to remove the COVID-19 restrictions that are severely impeding travel to Japan. Until such steps occur, the country’s airlines are focusing more heavily on transit traffic to rebuild international operations.

The Japanese government has been among the most cautious in the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to easing entry restrictions for non-residents. Many countries opened widely to vaccinated arrivals during the second quarter of 2022, but tourism to Japan is still extremely limited.

While point-to-point travel to Japan has been slow to recover, international connecting demand via Tokyo has been strong for both All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.

Border restrictions will likely ease at some point during 2022 and inbound traffic will swing back towards normal patterns. In the meantime, international transit traffic is proving to be something of a lifeline for the Japanese major airlines. This has also meant some changes in the twin-hub operations that both airlines operate in Tokyo.

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