Finnair Returns to Asia, Japanese Travelers Prefer Staying at Home

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Finnair intends to resume flights between Helsinki and Osaka in summer 2023 as travel rebounds, the Nordic carrier said in a press release Tuesday.

Starting March 26, Finnair will operate three weekly flights between Helsinki and Osaka on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The Finnish flagship air carrier will also serve the Tokyo-Helsinki route on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays as of March 27, while the Helsinki-Tokyo flights will depart every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from Narita Airport.

News Finnair Returns to Asia
Finnair Returns to Asia, Japanese Travelers Prefer Staying at Home

In addition, Finnair will also conduct daily flights between the Finnish capital and Tokyo Haneda airport during the summer season.

“We are happy to be able to respond to the increasing travel demand between Europe and key Asian destinations. In summer 2023, we will be operating 14 weekly connections in total between Finland and Japan,” Ole Orver, Chief Commercial Officer at Finnair, said. He added that the airline would also offer daily connections to Delhi and Hong Kong.

Finnair will continue covering its Asian route with its long-term codeshare partners, Japan Airlines and British Airways, according to the release. The timetables are designed to accommodate easy connections from leading British airports, including London Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh, and the Irish capital city of Dublin. Furthermore, Finnair also offers quick transfers for as little as 35 minutes and operates all flights from the same terminal.

While Finnair is restarting its operations in Asia, a recent survey conducted by the intelligence firm Morning Consult revealed that 35% of the respondents in Japan do not intend to travel again at all.

The study features 16,000 adult respondents in 15 countries surveyed twice this year – in April and July. According to the results, Asia is home to the highest number of people who stated they wouldn’t “never travel” again. North America and Mexico follow closely with 14% and 11%, respectively, indicating the same.

In addition, some 45% of the Japanese respondents confirmed they have travel plans for 2023, compared to 65% in China and 66% in South Korea, according to the survey. In sharp contrast, nearly 77% of the German participants confirmed they would travel during the upcoming year.

The Japan Tourism Organization estimated that only 386,000 Japanese tourists went overseas in August this year, compared to 2.1 million in August 2019. According to Dai Miyamoto, the founder of the travel agency Japan Localised, many people prefer to travel within the country instead of flying overseas, he told CNBC in May.

However, his colleague, Tetsuya Hanada, the managing director of Tabimori Inc., disagreed. In Hanada’s opinion, the main reason for the reduced number of Japanese travelers abroad is the weakened yen.

Hideki Furuya, a Japan’s Toyo University professor, added to the discussion, alleging that the Japanese reluctance to resume international travel has something to do with the culture’s tendency to avoid risks.

After almost three years of heavy pandemic restrictions, the land of the rising sun reopened its borders to individual travelers on October 11. However, the tourists must be fully vaccinated or test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours before entering the country.

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