Japanese airlines to cut flights as costs soar


TOKYO – All Nippon Airways, Japan’s second largest carrier, said Wednesday it was scrapping routes and flights due to high fuel costs, as bigger rival Japan Airlines also considers further downsizing.

ANA will axe two international routes, one from central Chubu airport to Taipei in October and another from Kansai in western Japan to Guam by January.

It will suspend one domestic route between Tokyo Haneda and southern Saga and reduce the number of flights on eight others.

JAL also said it was considering further cutbacks. Earlier the Nikkei business daily reported Asia’s largest carrier will scrap 12 domestic and five international routes by March 2009, including one between Kansai and London.

“We are reviewing flights due to surging fuel prices,” a JAL spokesman said, adding that the airline would announce on Thursday route revisions for the second half of the current business year to March 2009.

JAL will also reduce flights on four domestic routes as part of measures that are expected to reduce costs by 12-13 billion yen (111-120 million dollars) a year, the Nikkei said without citing its sources.

The other international routes to be abolished include links between Kansai and Chinese and South Korean cities, it said.

Soaring fuel costs and weaker economic growth are piling the pressure on airlines around the world.

Japan’s carriers have not been immune to the surge in jet fuel prices, although ANA in particular is in better shape than many other major carriers. Last week it posted a 10.5 percent rise in first-quarter operating profit.

ANA expects its fuel costs to jump more than 40 billion yen (370 million dollars) in the current business year to March, topping 300 billion yen. JAL is due to report its first-quarter results on Thursday.