Japan Airlines (JAL) has made an additional reduction of its domestic schedule for this month, slashing 1,412 more flights.
The carrier is reacting to continued COVID-19 restrictions in place in Japan as the country attempts to contain the spread of the omicron variant. The additional flight reductions will come between Feb. 8 and Feb. 28.
JAL has now cut a total of 5,654 domestic flights for the Feb. 8-28 period, bringing its total domestic-flight reductions for February to 7,633, meaning JAL will operate 32% fewer flights during the month than it originally planned.
The canceled flights represent a reversal in fortunes for JAL’s domestic network. In a report issued by the airline this week covering the nine-month period ending Dec. 31, 2021, JAL said: “Domestic passenger demand recovered robustly after October, compared with the [April through September period] when demand was sluggish due to a surge of new [COVID-19] infections and repeated declarations [by the Japanese government] of a state of emergency.”
JAL added that, in the current environment, “domestic passenger [demand] would recover rapidly if COVID infection [rates] slow down.”
Meanwhile, JAL’s international capacity was down 59.4% for the nine-month period ending Dec. 31 compared to the same period in 2019. Demand to the Americas held up the best, with capacity down 34.9% versus 2019 for the period. That is in stark contrast to Asia capacity, which was down 67.4% for the nine months versus 2019. China capacity was down 93.4% and Hawaii/Guam capacity was down 97.7%.
JAL’s Europe capacity was down 43.2% versus 2019 for the nine-month period.
International load factors remained very low during the nine months. Even as it operated a relatively strong schedule on Americas routes during the April-December period, load factor was just 27.2% on those routes.