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Japan's main at carriers hike ticket prices from Jul. 1

Date Posted: 2003-07-05

The two largest Japanese domestic carriers, Japan Air Lines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA), hiked their domestic airfares by an average of 11 percent effective July 1. The price hike brings the fares back exactly to the same level they were nine months ago when both carriers decided to lower the basic prices in order to boost their sagging business.

Both companies now say that it is imperative for them to raise the prices in order to stem the flow of red ink in their books. They say that the number of passengers has declined, first as a result of the Sep. 11, 2001 attack in New York that caused a world wide recession in airline industry, and then because of the recent SARS panic. The companies say that makes increasing the prices a necessity for their very survival.

Most passengers could hardly disagree more. The sentiment among passengers at Naha Airport on the first day of the new fares was for the airlines to shove it, although most of the passengers were travelling on package tours that include both air tickets and hotel fare, and thus few of them would actually see the price hike in writing.

A round-trip ticket Naha-Tokyo now costs 60,000 over the counter at the airport. A discount ticket for the same route with a reservation from a travel agency has a price tag of 52,000 to 56,000. However, according to airlines, only about 10 percent of passengers buy their tickets at the basic price, most of them being businessmen. Many analysts say that the hike will hardly make a dent to the carriers' balance sheets.

However, the price hike will affect people who plan to travel during the upcoming summer vacation season from July 20 through the end of August. During that period discount tickets are practically impossible to come by as the carriers traditionally try to cash in with the higher demand.

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