Japan drops blanket ban on flight reservations after confusion

Passengers wearing protective face masks, amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, walk at the Haneda airport, in Tokyo, Japan, on June 13, 2021.
PHOTO: Reuters

TOKYO - Japan's transport ministry has cancelled its blanket ban on new reservations for inbound flights and asked airlines to accommodate the needs of returning Japanese, a senior government spokesperson said on Thursday (Dec 2).

The government last month told airlines not to take new reservations for flights to Japan for December in light of the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

But the abrupt measure stirred up worries among those who had intended to return to Japan for year-end holidays, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the move had caused confusion.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a regular news conference that Kishida had asked the transport ministry, which oversees the airline industry, to be mindful of returning Japanese.

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"I understand the transport ministry has cancelled its instruction for the blanket suspension of new reservations and asked airlines anew to give sufficient consideration to the needs of returning Japanese nationals," Matsuno said.

Airlines now take new reservations as long as the number of passengers entering Japan remains below the latest upper limit of 3,500 a day, which was lowered from 5,000 last month, a transport ministry official said.

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