Japan’s largest airline, All Nippon Airways (ANA) Holdings, has urged the government to ease restrictions on foreign visitors to help cut the financial losses.
The airline also seeks the resumption of domestic travel subsidies and that Japan allows at least 3,500 international arrivals per day, now that infections have plummeted to less than 200 daily cases.
Being unable to transport 95% of its pre-pandemic passengers, the airline has had seven consecutive quarters of losses. In consequence, it has increased its operating loss forecast to 125 billion yen ($1.11 billion) for the year.
“When we are able to make money we should be allowed to… It will give us the strength to weather things in the future,” Shinya Katanozaka, ANA’s CEO told Reuters in an interview.
Like most Asian countries, Japan has kept on high alert at its international ports of entry to minimize the possibility of COVID-19 cases entering from abroad.
It also has tightened restrictions within the country to control coronavirus outbreaks, particularly in large cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya.
Considering Japan’s inflexible COVID-19 restrictions is hard to conceive it will be “open” to discuss such demands.
However, in more than 18 months of closure, this could be the best time to do it. In fact, Japan has agreed to a gradual and regulated reopening in recent days.
On Nov. 8 the country reopened its doors to business travelers, foreign students, and technical interns, whose sponsor companies can “meticulously manage their movements.”
Furthermore, only four days after Japan as a whole emerged from its most recent state of emergency, the government announced it was evaluating the best time to reinstate the “Go To Travel” program, the same the airline is asking to restart.
The travel scheme had started in July 2020 but it was “temporarily” suspended due to concerns about a major spread of the virus.
Finally, the government revealed on Wednesday that it is already preparing for the next wave of COVID-19 patients by increasing hospital capacity to accommodate more than 35,000 people with mild symptoms.