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Japan crisis hits airlines

: Mar 22, 2011 - : 9:26 am

The tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan has led to a sudden drop in traffic and caused airlines to reroute aircraft and rejig operations.

JAL added an additional 32 daily domestic flights between March 17 and 26 as part of its response to the crisis. The carrier has been in the early stages of a turnaround programme which is bound to be hit by the crisis.

Cathay Pacific said it had seen rapidly decreasing traffic to the country, and an upsurge of outbound traffic from Japan. “We are experiencing rapidly increasing demand from people wishing to return home to Hong Kong and elsewhere and as Hong Kong’s home carrier we will do everything possible to meet this demand,” said Cathay Pacific chief operating officer John Slosar.

Other carriers such as Lufthansa and Alitalia rerouted flights from Tokyo to Osaka, while British Airways changed pulled its crew out of Tokyo, with crew changes moved to Hong Kong. Singapore Airlines and Jetstar have added an Osaka stop to avoid changing crews in Tokyo. Air France and Lufthansa have decided to hub through Incheon in South Korea. Lufthansa said its planned anti-trust deal with ANA may be affected by the crisis.

United Airlines, meanwhile, reported it had seen a “measurable decline” in traffic from the US to Japan.

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