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Inflated airfares keeping Japanese nationals stuck overseas

19 Comments

"I've got my business to attend to, so the only time I can take time off for a home visit is at the year end," a Japanese residing in Australia, referred to only by his first name, Akio, tells Weekly Playboy (Dec 26). "I've given up on making it home this year; but if this situation continues in the future I don't know if I'll ever be able to return to Japan."

A survey conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 2021 found that 1.34 million Japanese nationals reside outside of their homeland. And growing numbers are concerned that their situations are threatening to emulate the title of American author Thomas Wolfe's famous 1940 novel, "You can't go home again."

"By the time travel restrictions on entry into Japan were lifted on October 11 of this year, the yen's value had dropped," said Yukio Yanazawa, an Australia-based writer. "On the one hand that made travel inside Japan considerably cheaper, so the number of foreign tourists planning visits soared. But this threw the balance of supply and demand out of whack, and on top of that the airlines had cut back on their flights during the pandemic, and the schedules still haven't recovered.

"So the result was that prices for tickets to Japan went through the roof."

Australia isn't the only place where Japanese expats have found themselves in a quandary. Closer to home, there's mainland China, which has applied draconian restrictions to control the spread of the coronavirus since 2020.

"Before the pandemic, the prices for round trip flights between China and Japan, whether at the year end or at other times, ran between ¥40,000 and ¥60,000," a Japanese who resides in China told the magazine. "Right now, they've gone up about tenfold, to around ¥400,000. To add insult to injury, upon their return to China travelers must report to a designated hospital for two PCR tests, which cost an additional ¥40,000. The red tape is also really troublesome. That's why I haven't been back to Japan since 2020."

Presently China requires all returnees from abroad to undergo a five-day quarantine in a hotel, followed by three more days of quarantine inside their home.

The key question is, how much longer is this airline ticket price inflation likely to continue?

In theory at least, the prices should gradually come down as carriers increase the number of flights.

"In Australia's case, cabin attendants have been laid off under the pretext of protecting them from overwork, but there are no assurances they'll return to their jobs," Yanazawa pointed out. "What worries me more than anything, though, is that the airlines are coming to the realization that in the current situation, they can get away with selling tickets at even at three times their price before Corona."

While the Japanese yen dropped sharply from its peak of around ¥150 to one US dollar from early December -- to around ¥135 at present -- the article noted that Australia's Qantas airlines has not made any moves to adjust its ticket charges downward.

"I suppose their main justification is that they realize they can sell seats without the need to reduce prices," Yanazawa said. "Also, the differential between the Japanese yen and Australian dollar only changed slightly, from ¥94 to ¥92, which was not enough to impact on their ticket prices."

It may be a long time until ticket prices return to normal -- if ever -- the article concludes.

© Japan Today

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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Exactly! My usual ¥150,000 round trip ticket was going to cost me ¥320,000. Luckily I had enough miles to get it for free, but hoping the open borders will lower the price.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It is good to use miles, but we hope r/t ticket prices come down too.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I am paying 250,000 yen for round trip to Orlando but had to use expiring credit soon. Prices on travel websites seem to go down quite a bit around next April. Impossible to take the whole family at these prices.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The Japanese not being able to return home. Maybe now they can empathize with resident aliens here not being able to return back to Japan either when they were caught overseas and the Jgov blocked them.

1 ( +14 / -13 )

They are not stuck overseas. They live and work overseas. All travellers are paying higher fares.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

The Japanese not being able to return home. Maybe now they can empathize with resident aliens here not being able to return back to Japan either when they were caught overseas and the Jgov blocked them.

EXACTLY! But unfortunately empathy is not something the Japanese do well.

-6 ( +10 / -16 )

"I've got my business to attend to, so the only time I can take time off for a home visit is at the year end," a Japanese residing in Australia, referred to only by his first name, Akio, tells Weekly Playboy (Dec 26). "I've given up on making it home this year; but if this situation continues in the future I don't know if I'll ever be able to return to Japan."

Akio--with a quick search I found a ticket for under US$2000.

Stop being cheap and self loathing.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Maybe Akio doesn’t want to come back over New Years for the family harassment of why he doesn’t yet have a full-time job in a Japanese company. I am surprised at the number of Japanese I meet that are estranged from their parents.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

its all about greed.

airlines can do better prices but all are greedy and counting on peoples wish and will to travel-at least once a year to visit home country.

unfortunatelly with all of price hikes and situation in Japan many have to opt to postpone trip back home.and yes same thing applies for Japanese living abroad like guy from article.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Japan has really become a developing country at this point. The weak Yen makes the lives of Japanese expats poorer.

-11 ( +8 / -19 )

I returned home recently and the only way to avoid a more than doubling of airfares was to take an indirect flight which lasted twice as long and was like doing a U-turn. Extremely tiring, but I needed to see family. Don't know when I'll be able to take a direct flight again. They were already expensive before and during the pandemic but the conflict with NATO made things worse.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Also, as we've seen from fuel surcharges in the past two decades, airlines are quick to raise airfares, but are extremely slow to reduce them.

I remember the years just before they introduced fuel surcharges. Airfares were like one quarter of what they used to be last year.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The expensive tickets are mostly due to fuel surcharge and the pent up hype of people wanting to travel.

By actual purchasing power the fares are crazy everywhere.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Stop being cheap and self loathing.

Lol. Says the man.

Search all you want in fantasy land, plane tickets are way too high. For now.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I keep seeing ads on American Airlines for flights to the US. That's all fine and good, but like many people here, I'm waiting for the airfares to drop. I was lucky enough to send one of my daughters to visit her relatives. Before the pandemic, we had no trouble all of us going. Yup, they are way too high. I'm hoping by either April or later, the fares will drop to affordable levels.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Stop being cheap and self loathing.

Lol. Says the man. Search all you want in fantasy land, plane tickets are way too high. For now."

Lol, get back to earth Elvis, tickets between Oz an Japan are higher but not that bad, (I know as a recent buyer ) in addition "Akio" who has a business in Australia is likely making way more moneros than he would be in Japan. Crocodile tears mate.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Last time I went back to the UK, I paid about 150,000 yen for a round trip with Asiana via Seoul.

Flights are too expensive to return home right now.

I found a return flight for August 2023 from Fukuoka via Singapore to London for 112,000 yen. Will probably book it this week.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These "stuck" Japanese chose to live and work in foreign countries. They have to respect the economics, customs, culture of those countries (as many Japanese and Japanaphiles often say to non-Japanese people in Japan).

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Well I haven't been back to the US since 2020

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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