Business

Peach Aviation becomes first Japanese carrier to scale back services to South Korea amid row

Kyodo

Low-cost carrier Peach Aviation Ltd. said Friday it would suspend and reduce routes connecting Japan and South Korea, becoming the first Japanese airline to respond to rising tensions between the two countries by cutting services.

Peach said it will indefinitely stop services between New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido and Incheon Airport near Seoul from Oct. 28 and flights between Kansai Airport and Busan from Jan. 7 due to a lack of demand from South Korea. The Hokkaido-Incheon flight was only launched on April 25.

The route connecting Naha Airport in Okinawa Prefecture and Incheon will be temporarily suspended from Jan. 28 to Feb. 22. All three routes currently have one round-trip per day.

“We’ve taken the decision after judging the situation holistically, including the deteriorating South Korean economy and depreciation of the won,” a Peach official said.

Kansai-Incheon flights will be reduced to three round-trips per day from four between Nov. 11 and Dec. 8, according to the subsidiary of ANA Holdings Inc.

The route connecting Tokyo’s Haneda airport and Incheon, the carrier’s only other service that connects the two countries, will remain unchanged.

Eight South Korean carriers including Korean Air Lines Co., Asiana Airlines Inc. and Air Seoul Inc. have already announced flight suspensions or reduced services to Japan after a fall in demand from South Korean travelers.

The Asian neighbors’ ties have sunk to their lowest level in years after Japan tightened export rules to South Korea. Seoul views the move as retaliation for court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate groups of South Koreans over forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, from 1910 to 1945.