For Japan’s Hardline Airlines, Demand for Hawaii Flights Gives a Glimpse of Hope By Reuters


© Reuters. Travelers queue to board a flight to Hawaii from Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport during Japan’s “Golden Week” holidays in Tokyo, Japan on April 29, 2022. REUTERS / Maki Shiraki


by Maki Shiraki

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s airlines are betting on a travel recovery this summer after the COVID-19 crash, as many Japanese appear to be going abroad for the first time in years, now that fully vaccinated residents are no longer facing quarantine restrictions when they returns.

After encouraging demand for flights to Hawaii in a just-concluded popular holiday season, Japan Airlines Co Ltd (JAL) and ANA Holdings Inc hope the outbound increase will help fill some of the gap from Japan’s ongoing ban on foreign tourist arrivals.

On March 1, Japan waived all quarantine and isolation requirements for triple-vaccinated residents returning from the United States and a number of other countries. It also lowered its travel warning of infection in the United States from April 1st.

“The fact that you do not have to be quarantined upon returning home is a big reason why we chose Hawaii,” said Masahiro Sugiyama, who was traveling with his wife and two children.

A surge in demand for flights to Hawaii, a long-awaited destination for many Japanese, is seen as a bell for the overall travel sector. It also shows that airlines are eager to capitalize on accumulated demand – even though higher fuel costs, a weak yen and expensive test requirements are driving costs up for travelers.

“If I do not leave when I can, I do not know when I will get another chance,” said Kaori Sato, a college student who is about to leave for a week-long trip to Hawaii with her mother and sister. “I’m still worried about corona, but I’ve had three vaccine blasts, so I think I’m going to make it.”


Last year, only 510,000 Japanese went abroad, according to government statistics, a drop from more than 20 million in 2019.

But international reservations before the start of the recent holiday break, known in Japan as ‘Golden Week’, rose sharply: at ANA, they jumped more than five times and JAL more than four times, airlines said before the start of the holiday.

ANA said it aims to bring more planes back to Los Angeles, New York and other destinations popular with Japanese tourists.

There are also hopes that a ban on incoming tourists could be lifted soon after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday said border controls would be reviewed next month.

JAL plans to resume daily flights to Hawaii from June, while ANA said it will return to use its largest aircraft, the 520-seat Airbus A380, for some Hawaii routes from July.

Meanwhile, customers have to pay as much as 62,000 yen ($ 475) per ticket as a fuel surcharge.

Hawaii-bound Angie Matsuo said she and her parents also had to pay more than 100,000 yen combined for the necessary PCR tests before leaving, which equates to more than $ 250 each. Another test is needed before returning home.

“The test is a hassle because it requires a lot of money, time and effort,” Matsuo said. “The depreciation of the yen and various price increases are also a pain. But I do not know when I can go again, so it is now or never.”

($ 1 = 130,6200 yen)

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