American suspends 2 daily flights to Japan

AP News
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Posted: Mar 30, 2011 5:28 PM
American suspends 2 daily flights to Japan

American Airlines is suspending two of its six daily flights to Japan next week due to a slump in traffic since the big earthquake and tsunami.

American said Wednesday it will suspend the flights on April 6 and resume them on April 26. One goes from New York to Tokyo's Haneda Airport, and the other flies between Dallas and Tokyo's Narita Airport.

The move by AMR Corp.'s American Airlines follows Delta Air Lines Inc.'s decision last week to suspend service to Haneda, although Delta continues flying to Narita.

American said it will continue operating the other four daily flights to Tokyo Narita from New York's Kennedy Airport, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Demand for travel to Japan has been hurt by power shortages and fear about radiation leaking from a damaged nuclear power plant.

Japan Airlines said this week that its international traffic had fallen 25 percent since the March 11 earthquake, and it cut flights to Honolulu and Hong Kong.

American declined to say how much its traffic on U.S.-Japan routes has fallen.

"I can say demand out of Japan is higher than demand into Japan," said American spokesman Ed Martelle.

American said it will go ahead with Friday's scheduled launch of a trans-Pacific joint venture with Japan Airlines, or JAL. American's vice president for Asia, Theo Panagiotoulias, called it "a difficult decision" but one that would support customers and Japan.

AMR, the only big U.S. airline company to lose money last year, has pinned much of its hopes for renewed profit on the American-JAL business deal, which it expects will boost lucrative international ticket sales.

AMR shares rose 27 cents, or 4.1 percent, to close at $6.85 amid a rally of airline stocks. AMR said it was investigating a purported $9.75 per share offer for the company from Sterling Global Holdings but said it had never heard of Sterling and had no evidence the bid was legitimate.