Japan and China expand bilateral air service

9 Aug 2012

Japan and China have reached an agreement to increase the number of permitted flights between the two countries, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced today.  

Under the agreement, the number of possible flights between Tokyo and Haneda Airport and China will be increased to 16 per day. This is four extra daily services from Haneda to both Shanghai Pudong and Beijing, together with four additional daily services from Haneda to Guangzhou. 

Commenting on the agreement, Peter Harbison, executive chairman of CAPA Centre For Aviation, an aviation intelligence provider, said it was still a long way from open skies but “quite a decent expansion.”

He added that airlines were likely to take advantage and introduce new flights and that he expected one or two low cost carrier’s might also use the opportunity to try and introduce flights on these routes.

“It does open up space for more carriers to enter in,” he said. He explained that a lot of carriers have been held back from expanding in China, largely because the country has been restrictive with their airspace. He added that if China’s airspace were to be completely opened up, CAPA research shows that there would be potential for 200 million more passengers in and out of the country per year. 

This comes off the back of the Global Business Travel Association forecasting that China may eclipse the US as the largest market for business travel by next year (see story here) and IATA commenting that China needs to improve its aviation infrastructure (read story here).

Speaking of the new agreement, Sze Hunn Yap, assistant manager of public relations at Japan Airlines (JAL) said “It’s a result we have been waiting for and we welcome the development.” She was not yet able to comment on whether the airline might introduce new flights because of it.

She said JAL’s monthly traffic results between Japan and China were looking healthy and that in June they saw a 9.8 per cent increase in travellers from the same period a year earlier.  

Commenting on the Haneda to Shanghai flight, one of the routes affected by the agreements, she said that it was a very convenient route for business travellers, with Haneda providing easy transit into Tokyo. 

Harbison added that the new agreement would help Haneda to develop into an international hub, an aim he said it had expressed in 2010.  

Nicholas Olczak

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