DALLAS – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced that the country will reopen its borders to international air travel from October 11.
At a news conference in New York City, Kishida said, “We will lift the ceiling of the number of entrants into Japan, lift the ban on individual travel and lift the ban over visa-less travel.”
The move follows almost two and a half years of border closures amid some of the strictest Covid restrictions in the world. A limited number of tourists have been allowed to enter the country since June, but only as part of a package tour group with specific itineraries. These restrictions have led to foreign tourists dropping to around 246,000 in 2021, compared to 31.9 million in 2019.
Preparing for Rebound in Demand
The announcement has been welcomed by two of the country’s biggest airlines, All Nippon Airways (NH) and Japan Airlines (JL). Both now plan to ramp up their international offering to meet the anticipated increase in demand.
Speaking of the move, NH CEO Shinichi Inoue said, “We’ve long been waiting for the easing of restrictions. We want to welcome visitors from overseas with increased flights.”
Meanwhile, in a statement, Japan Airlines said that it is ready to “contribute to revitalizing the Japanese economy by being fully prepared to welcome foreign visitors.”
JL is currently operating at around 65% of its pre-pandemic international capacity, while domestic capacity sits at about 100%. However, passenger demand for these flights is presently around 40% ad 80%, respectively.
Featured Image: The move has been welcomed by both ANA and JAL. Photo: Tokyo Haneda Airport.