SEOUL, Jul. 29 (Korea Bizwire) — Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea’s top carrier, said Monday it will suspend its Busan-Sapporo route from September as travel demand to Japan declines amid escalating trade tension between the two nations.
Korean Air plans to cease its three regular weekly flights between the Korean southern port city and the northeastern Japanese city beginning Sept. 3, a company spokeswoman said.
“We will provide domestic flight services to bring those who have booked the Busan-Sapporo route to Incheon International Airport and then have them use the Incheon-Sapporo route,” she said.
Korean Air had been considering dropping the route due to tougher competition with low-cost carriers, but a recent sharp decline in travel demand from Busan to Sapporo precipitated the decision, the company said in a statement.
Budget carriers such as Air Busan Co., Eastar Jet and T’way Air have recently announced plans to reduce flights on routes from local cities like Daegu and Busan to less popular Japanese cities such as Narita, Oita and Kumamoto.
Asiana Airlines Inc. said it is considering assigning smaller planes to less-popular Japanese routes on which demand is expected to continue falling for the rest of the year.
It didn’t elaborate on the routes that would be affected.
On July 4, Japan tightened controls on exports of key high-tech materials to South Korea, in apparent retaliation for a series of South Korean court rulings last year over Japan’s wartime forced labor.