United Continental Cuts Japan Flights as Demand Declines

United Continental Sees ‘Measurable’ U.S.-Japan Travel Drop
United Continental Holdings Inc., the world’s biggest airline, said it has had a “measurable decline” in U.S.-to-Japan travel demand since an earthquake and tsunami struck the Asian nation almost a week ago. Photographer: Kim White/Bloomberg

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- United Continental Holdings Inc., the world’s largest airline, is cutting 10 percent of its capacity on U.S.-Japan routes in April and 14 percent in May, citing a “measurable decline” in demand for travel following an earthquake and nuclear disaster.

The airline is trimming several midweek flights from airports including New Jersey’s Newark, Los Angeles, Washington Dulles and Seattle in the coming months, Christen David, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based airline, said today by telephone.

United Continental joins Delta Air Lines Inc. and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines in trimming service to Japan in response to a drop in travel after the March 11 earthquake and concerns about radiation leaks at a nuclear plant in Fukushima. Delta suspended flights to Tokyo’s Haneda airport and American said yesterday it would halt two of its six daily Japan flights.

United Continental will continue the majority of its normal flights on all routes to Tokyo’s Narita airport, while scrubbing certain round trips on days when bookings are lower, David said.

Cancellations in May include 11 round trips from Seattle, three from Los Angeles, six from Dulles and seven from Newark, she said. The carrier is also delaying the start of a second daily seasonal summer flight from San Francisco by about a month, and it will use a smaller Boeing 737-800 instead of a 767-400 on a flight from Guam to Tokyo.

United Continental slid 85 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $22.99 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 18 percent in the past year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at mcredeur@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net.