Japan Air Cuts China Flights Amid Islands Spat; Shares Fall

Japan Airlines Co. (9201) cut flights to China as a dispute over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea spurs travel boycotts and street protests. The carrier’s shares, which relisted on the stock market this week, tumbled.

The airline will reduce services to Beijing and Shanghai starting Oct. 10 until Oct. 27, it said by e-mail today. A total of 12,000 seat reservations from September to November have been canceled, said Sze Hunn Yap, a spokeswoman at JAL. All Nippon Airways Co. has no immediate plans to cut flights, Ryosei Nomura, a spokesman, said by phone.

Japan Air fell as much as 4.8 percent in Tokyo trading, dropping below its initial public offering price for the first time since returning to the stock exchange two days ago after an $8.4 billion initial public offering. China Southern Airlines Co. and other Chinese carriers have also pared services to Japan amid a boycott that prompted the cancellation of as much as 40 percent of planned trips to Japan last week by Chinese holidaymakers, according to Citigroup Inc.

“The announcement that JAL is cutting China flights triggered a surge in selling that added to an already weak showing in the morning session,” said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Securities in Tokyo.

The carrier dropped 3.4 percent to 3,660 yen as of 1:43 p.m. in Tokyo. The IPO was priced at 3,790 yen. ANA rose 0.6 percent to 177 yen.

Japanese companies have also closed shops and factories in China because of safety concerns and protests sparked by the spat over the sovereignty of the islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese.

Cancellation rates for vacations in Japan may increase further ahead of weeklong Chinese holidays starting Oct. 1, Citigroup analysts Vivian Tao and Rigan Wong said in a note today. The effect on Chinese carriers will be “manageable,” they said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kiyotaka Matsuda in Tokyo at kmatsuda@bloomberg.net; Chris Cooper in Tokyo at ccooper1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net.

Bloomberg reserves the right to edit or remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.