The passenger traffic at the main Seoul gateway of Incheon International Airport for trips to Japan fell 14 percent from the previous month and 19.5 percent from a year ago in August as Koreans chose to stay away from the neighboring country amid worsening ties.
According to data released by Incheon International Airport Corp. on Monday, the number of air travelers to and from Japan last month amounted to 968,686, with outbound travelers reaching 455,300 and inbound 513,386. The figure retreated 19.5 percent from 1,203,835 in the same month last year and 13.6 percent compared to 1,121,639 in July. Out of total 28 Japanese routes serviced by the nation’s main gateway, 19 destinations saw a decline in the number of air travelers from a month earlier while the number increased for nine cities.
The largest number of 260,237 air passengers arrived at Narita International Airport from Incheon in August, and 29,520 travelers visited Japan through Tokyo International Airport known as Haneda Airport. The number of visitors to Osaka from Incheon fell 12.3 percent on month to 228,406 and travelers to Okinawa dropped 26.2 percent to 54,054 from 73,321 in July.
The number of passengers flying to Fukuoka from Incheon slipped 17.1 percent from July to 145,628, Sapporo 37.8 percent to 77,837, Takamatsu 13.4 percent to 7,798 and Kagoshima 21.8 percent to 7,091. Other major Japanese cities that saw a month-on-month retreat in the number of Korean visitors included Aomori, Hiroshima, Saga, Kitakyushu, Miyazaki, Kumamoto, Komatsu, Matsuyama, Oita, Okayama, Asahikawa and Toyama.
On the other hand, some Japanese cities saw the figure rise from the previous month. The number of Korean travelers to Nagoya grew 2.8 percent on month to 77,084. Other cities included Shizuoka, Ibaraki, Niigata, Kushiro, Memanbetsu, Sendai and Ynago. None of Korean visitors went to Hakodate and Nagasaki in July and August from Incheon, according to the data.
Korean customers have been boycotting trips to the neighboring country and Japanese goods and services since the Japanese government tightened shipments of high-tech materials to Korea and removed Seoul from its list of trusted allies. As the diplomatic and trade tensions between the two countries have been escalating, domestic big and small air carriers significantly cut their services to Japan due to the plunging demand.
By Ji Hong-gu and Choi Mira
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