The U.S. state of Hawaii on Friday loosened its restrictions on travelers from Japan, allowing them to skip its mandatory two-week quarantine if they meet certain conditions.
Japanese airlines, hit hard by a plunge in international flight demand amid the pandemic, are hoping that the exemption will increase the number of travelers to Hawaii, traditionally a cash-cow route.
Travelers who test negative for the virus before their departure will be exempt from the quarantine period after arriving in Hawaii.
But it is uncertain whether demand will increase as hoped, because travelers will be required to be quarantined for two weeks after returning to Japan.
“We cannot be optimistic about the future,” said an official of Japan Airlines.
“I think this will make it easier for people to go to Hawaii, but it would be much better if there’s no quarantine period when people go back to Japan,” said a 36-year-old Japanese woman who lives in Honolulu.
A flight of ANA Holdings Inc.’s All Nippon Airways that was 26% full departed Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Friday evening for Honolulu. ANA reduced the number of international flights on its schedule in November by over 80 percent.
The company initially planned to operate seven round-trip flights a week between Haneda and Honolulu. But the number has been reduced to two round-trip flights a month.
JAL is also offering two round-trip flights per month on its Haneda-Honolulu route.
Usually, flights linking Japan and Honolulu have high seat occupancy rates and are highly profitable, as are flights between Japan and the U.S. mainland.
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