United Airlines Plans To Reduce Flights Between Guam, Japan

Tourism travel from Japan has been on the decline

By Ginette Bocanegra

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 6, 2017) – United Airlines early next year will stop flights between Guam and Sapporo, Japan, and reduce the number of flights between Guam and other Japanese cities, United Airlines President Scott Kirby announced this week in an email to United employees.

The announcement comes after Guam's other U.S.-flagged air carrier, Delta Air Lines, recently announced it would to stop flying to Guam entirely, after more than 30 years.

Kirby's email states United plans to keep its fleet of Boeing 737s and 777s intact in the region. "That way we can respond more quickly if conditions improve and can begin adding service," he wrote.

United officials on Friday did not respond to calls for comment about the reason for the cuts in service between Guam and Japan, but Guam's share of Japan's tourism market has been declining year-over-year.

Tourist arrivals from South Korea, which is a growing market, have surpassed arrivals from Japan for most of this year.

Delta, when it announced its planned departure from the Guam market, cited low demand.

"These changes will temporarily reduce flying time for some pilots and flight attendants, so we are working closely with the Association of Flight Attendants, the Air Line Pilots Association and the bases to minimize the effects on our employees," Kirby stated.

According to Kirby, some flights between Narita and Guam will be using smaller planes - 737s instead of 777s; 

The Sapporo route will be suspended, effective Jan. 15, 2018, and no layoffs will result, he stated.

Kirby stated the airline will reduce the frequency of the routes between Guam, Fukuoka, Osaka, Nagoya and Sendai, but he did not say when that would happen.

There also will be cuts to routes within the region, according to Kirby, who said flights between Palau and Yap will end, effective Jan. 7, but direct flights from Guam to Yap and from Guam to Palau will continue.

Flights from Manila to Guam also will be scaled back, according to Kirby, who stated the evening flights will continue, but the morning departures from Manila, which currently happen four times a week, will end Jan. 7.

The "island hopper" flights between Guam and Honolulu will increase to four, effective Jan. 21, 2018, Kirby stated.

"As Guam's hometown airline for nearly 50 years, we are committed to the market, our employees in the region and to doing our part in supporting the local economy," he wrote. 

Delta in September announced it will stop flying between Guam and Japan, with its last operating date on Jan. 8, 2018. It stated it will continue its service to and from Saipan and Narita, as well as Palau and Narita.

Pacific Daily News
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