Japan Airlines Corp., the country’s biggest carrier, All Nippon Airways Co. and other domestic airlines asked the government for financial aid after passenger numbers tumbled the most in five years.

The request, made by The Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan, was presented to Transport Minister Kazuyoshi Kaneko in Tokyo today by the group’s Chairman Haruka Nishimatsu. It did not include a figure for any financial aid.

Japan Air plans to cut staff at its largest unit by 13 percent and offered cabin attendants unpaid leave for the first time in more than four years. All Nippon flew 17.5 percent fewer passengers overseas in December and November, the biggest decline since June 2003, when outbreaks of SARS and bird flu cut travel demand.

“The drop in passengers is worse than Sept. 11,” said Nishimatsu, who is also president of Japan Airlines. “This time both international and domestic passengers are slumping.”

All Nippon Air last week announced it will slash 9 percent of its international service in the fiscal year starting April and predicted a loss for this year.

Japan Air, which reports earnings Feb. 6, rose 1.1 percent to close at 192 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange today. All Nippon rose 1.8 percent to 344 yen today.