Japanese airlines eye closer travel connections; current restrictions ‘temporary’

Arriving travelers from Shanghai, China, line for COVID-19 tests at Narita International Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, on December 30, 2022. Photo: VCG

Arriving travelers from Shanghai, China, line for COVID-19 tests at Narita International Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, on December 30, 2022. Photo: VCG

Japanese airlines told the Global Times that they are looking forward to resuming travel between China and Japan as soon as possible, adding that the current entry restrictions are only temporary and that travel connections between the two countries will be closer than before.

“I think the current situation should be temporary,” Hara Yuzo, chief representative of All Nippon Airways (ANA), China told the Global Times.

The number of ANA flights in China has gradually recovered to 17.5 round-trip flights per week, and the number of bookings from January 8 to January 22 has been increasing steadily. However, the figure is still less than 10 percent of the 182 round-trip flights a week in 2019.

Regarding the current entry restrictions on Chinese travelers, Yuzo said that as an airline, ANA must abide by the decisions of the Japanese and Chinese governments. “But I believe this situation is only temporary and we have great expectations that travel will resume soon once the restrictions are lifted.”

Shoshi Nishida, vice president and regional manager of the Beijing Regional office of Japan Airlines (JAL), told the Global Times that airlines have to comply with different considerations for quarantine measures in different countries.

“But looking back over thousands of years, Japan and China have had close ties in economic, cultural and other fields. There is no doubt that their mutual charm and possibilities have made the two countries important partners.”

As part of the social infrastructure, the job of airlines is to stimulate business by facilitating people to people exchanges. On the logistics side, airlines will also support the global economy by connecting supply chains to aviation networks, Nishida said.

The Japanese airlines have expressed confidence in the Chinese market and look forward to closer exchanges between the two countries. Yuzo said that the Chinese market is “extremely important” for ANA and further expansion in China is a key part of the company’s vision for the future.

Nishida from JAL said it is believed that in the near future the COVID-19 pandemic will ease on a global scale, and the exchanges between Japan and China will be closer than before.

The Chinese Embassy in Japan issued a notice on January 10 to suspend the issuance of ordinary visas for Japanese citizens who want to travel to China, without giving a date for resumption.

China also suspended issuance of short-term visas for South Korean citizens to travel to China for visits, business, tourism, medical treatment, transit or other personal affairs, with the new adjustment taking effect from January 10.

The action came in response to the discriminatory entry-restriction measures targeting Chinese nationals by a small number of countries.

China firmly rejects such discriminatory entry restriction measures and will take reciprocal measures, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press conference on January 10.

“We once again call on relevant countries to make sure that their COVID response measures are fact-based, science-based and proportionate. COVID response should not be used as a pretext for political manipulation. It should not be discriminatory and should not affect normal cross-border travel and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation,” Wang said.


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