Recent anti-Japanese protests in China probably won’t greatly hurt air travel from Japan, a senior aviation official said Tuesday.
Giovanni Bisignani, director general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association, which represents more than 270 airlines worldwide, said the Chinese market is where the industry is looking for growth.
“I don’t see a big impact on the traffic because I consider this a very limited kind of situation,” he said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo.
Anti-Japanese demonstrations erupted in China recently over new Japanese textbooks that critics say gloss over wartime atrocities, and Tokyo’s bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
Over the weekend, thousands of Chinese protesters marched through Beijing, shouting slogans and throwing rocks, bottles and eggs at the Japanese Embassy.
Despite simmering political tensions, China remains an important market and manufacturing point for Japanese companies, and booming exports to China have helped the Japanese economy emerge recently from a decade of stagnation.
Bisignani said the big risk now is surging fuel costs.
The industry is forecasting a $5.5 billion loss for this year, and the fuel bill has grown from $43 billion in 2003 to $63 billion last year, he said.
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