JAL to end Chubu-Paris flights in October due to weak demand

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Struggling Japan Airlines plans to cut all flights between Central Japan International Airport and Paris from the end of October as part of its restructuring, sources said Wednesday.

Japan’s largest airline has been stepping up measures to reduce money-losing flights nationwide after it inked a deal to receive state-backed emergency loans to turn its business around.

JAL currently operates seven regular flights per week between the airport in Aichi Prefecture and the French capital, but demand for travel has dropped sharply due to the economic downturn and fears about the spread of the new influenza strain.

For the April-June period, the routes have been operating at around 60 percent capacity, JAL said.

With JAL’s exit, only foreign airlines will be able to provide flights from the Chubu region to Europe, dealing a major blow to the Chubu airport, which has seen airlines withdraw in droves from the region.

“We had hoped for demand from business customers for the Chubu-Paris route, but the number of travelers is decreasing due to the recession,” a JAL official said.

But despite shrinking demand, Central Japan International Airport is urging JAL to reconsider its decision.

“We understand there are few customers due to the recession and influenza, but we wish it would (at most just) be a reduction in flights,” an airport official said.

The Japan Times: Thursday, July 9, 2009
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