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Korean Air cuts Japan flights in favour of China

South Korea largest airline Korean Air is cutting capacity on flights to Japan and will shift its focus to other markets, particularly China.

Changes to the Japan services are “in consideration of decreasing demand of Japanese routes due to Korea-Japan tensions,” it says.

The Busan-Osaka route will be suspended from 16 September, while Jeju-Tokyo Narita and Jeju-Osaka flights to follow on 1 November. The flag carrier did not indicate when these will resume.

It will also temporarily suspend three routes out of Seoul Incheon. This runs between 29 September and 16 November for flights to Komatsu and Kagoshima, and from 29 September to 26 October for the Asahikawa service.

Earlier, it announced the suspension of Busan-Sapporo flights from 3 September, citing a decline in demand but emphasising the move was purely business-oriented.

The carrier also plans to lower the frequency of Seoul Incheon-Osaka and Seoul Incheon-Fukuoka routes from four-times daily to thrice daily between 27 October and 16 November.

From 29 September to 16 November, Seoul Incheon-Okinawa will be reduced from seven to four flights each week, while Busan-Tokyo Narita and Busan-Fukuoka will be halved to once daily.

Meanwhile, Korean Air will shift its focus to other markets "to strengthen route competitiveness" during the winter season.

Neighbouring China features prominently in the carrier's plans. It will launch thrice-weekly Seoul Incheon-Zhangjiajie and Seoul Incheon-Hangzhou, as well as four times weekly Incheon-Nanjing services. The frequency of Incheon-Beijing will be upped from 14 to 17 flights per week. It did not specify a launch date for these flights.

Daily services to Clark in the Philippines will start on 27 October. Frequency on Seoul Incheon-Chiang Mai and Seoul Incheon-Bali flights will rise from daily to eleven flights weekly, and that Seoul Incheon-Brisbane will be served daily.

On the domestic front, there will a new daily service between Pohang and Jeju, while the frequency of Ulsan-Jeju will be increased to daily.

Korean Air states these changes are subject to government approval.

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