• Staff Report


United Airlines has announced it is suspending or cutting back on flights from major hubs in the United States to Narita Airport and Kansai International Airport amid the new coronavirus outbreak, according to a statement posted to its website Friday.

Flights from Los Angeles and Houston will be suspended from March 8 until April 24, while Narita-bound flights from Chicago O’Hare will be halted from March 8 to March 27.

From April, daily flights from New York and Newark, New Jersey, to Narita, as well as from San Francisco to Osaka, will be reduced to five times a week.

In the meantime, flights between Chicago O’Hare and Tokyo International Airport, known locally as Haneda, will continue daily.

The suspensions and reductions are the first among major U.S. airlines flying to Japan. It’s unclear if other carriers will follow suit. United, Delta Airlines and American Airlines have all suspended services to China.

Meanwhile, CNN reported Friday that U.S. President Donald Trump is considering plans to impose new restrictions on travelers from both Japan and South Korea, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

CNN said no decisions had been made but that Trump has demanded advisers identify steps that will boost confidence in his administration’s ability to confront the outbreak and inspire economic optimism.

Trump said on Friday that he was close to deciding whether to impose new travel restrictions on at least two countries with a “disproportionately high number” of coronavirus cases.

Senior officials said Japan and South Korea were likely targets for the new restrictions.

The tally for visitor arrivals from Japan to the U.S. was 3,493,313 in 2018, according to Japan National Tourism Organization.

The impact of travel restrictions between Japan and the U.S. would be tremendous, given Tokyo’s deep economic ties with Washington.

In 2017, the gross domestic products of the two countries accounted for about 30 percent of the world’s, and Japan’s accumulated direct investment in the U.S. totalled $469 billion, second only to Britain.

According to Japan’s Foreign Ministry, Japanese firms generated about 860,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2016.

“The Japan-U.S. economic ties is one of the three main factors that supports the Japan-U.S. alliance, along with security ties and human exchanges between the two countries,” the Foreign Ministry said on its website.

“The economies of the two countries are deeply integrated through trade and investments,” the ministry said.

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