With the Summer 2020 Olympic Games ready to begin in Tokyo in less than a week, the Japanese government is considering limiting the number of visitors to the country even further in order to properly conduct coronavirus testing. To do this, the Japanese Ministry of Transportation is said to have urged airlines to halt accepting new bookings for flights arriving at five foreign airports during peak hours.
Arrivals will be limited over the next week.
According to Inside Sport, Japan's Ministry of Transportation aims to restrict arrivals even further during the busiest times of the day on Olympic-related travel days. The government department expects that by doing so, airport and health personnel on the front lines would be able to administer coronavirus tests and other border restrictions more effectively.
As a result, the government has requested that airlines cease accepting new bookings for flights arriving in the following situations:
Furthermore, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism is reportedly urging international airlines to limit the number of passengers each aircraft to 40 or less until the end of August, excluding those in transit and associated to the Tokyo Olympics.
What are the airline companies saying?
Simple Flying tried to book a flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo for a specific day in the coming week. Despite our repeated attempts, both Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) sent us messages indicating that there were no results (despite flight services such as FlightRadar24.com confirming that these flights are scheduled.
This could just be a result of overbooked flights, especially given that the Olympics are coming up soon. However, it could also indicate that airlines are limiting the amount of bookings they accept.
Simple Flying contacted a number of international airlines to confirm the 40-passenger-per-flight limit. This was confirmed by one US carrier who did not want to be recognized. No more responses had been received by the time this article was published.
Limits have already been imposed on Japanese carriers.
In March, we reported that Japan was already limiting the number of visitors. The Japanese government limited the number of passengers arriving per flight to 100 in order to avoid overcrowding quarantine facilities.
Customers should be aware of the following information on Japan Airlines' website:
“Currently there is a limit on the number of people permitted to enter Japan due to enhanced restrictions imposed by the Japanese government. Japan Airlines will suspend reservations on JAL-operated international flights arriving in Japan on certain routes and flights in line with the government restrictions.”
A similar statement can be found on ANA's website, which has been up since early March when broad arrival limits were originally imposed:
“As part of the Japanese Government’s enhancement of border control measures, the number of arrivals into Japan has been tightened since March 8, 2021. ANA has been controlling the number of reservations for its international flights into Japan in order to comply with these restrictions, and ticket sales will be suspended when they reach the upper limit specified by the government.”
There have been four waves of coronavirus illnesses in Japan thus far, with the two biggest waves occurring in mid-January and mid-May. Since late June, the country has seen a steady increase in new cases per day, indicating the start of a new wave of illnesses.