Travel plan chaos as Japan pulls trigger on ban

James Lee

Thousands of Hong Kongers have had their plans to travel to Japan disrupted after authorities banned airports at popular destinations.

But starting tomorrow, they must land at Narita and Haneda airports in Tokyo, Kansai in Osaka and Chubu in Nagoya.

But SAR authorities said people could return to Hong Kong from other airports.

The Bureau of Transport and Logistics also said Japan should reverse its decision to restrict flights from Hong Kong.

Chief Executive John Lee Ka Chiu and Transport Secretary Lam Sai Hoon said they were “deeply disappointed” by the restrictions, adding that the SAR administration had sent letters of “deep concern” to Japanese authorities and consulates in the SAR. .

Many Hong Kongers who have been heading to popular destinations may have had their plans disrupted for those traveling for the first time since the pandemic began.

Fanny Yeung Shuk-fan, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Industry Council, said more than a thousand people were expected to be affected by the airport restrictions.

Most insurance companies won’t reimburse, he added.

In this regard, the Association of Insurers stated that additional costs and losses arising from the operation of the Japanese airport will not be covered by the insurance.

Local travel agencies have canceled tours to the affected areas.

EGL Tours said it would start flights to Hokkaido tomorrow and return next Monday, but Cathay’s budget arm, Hong Kong Express, has canceled EGL Tours flights today and yesterday.

At Hong Kong International Airport yesterday, some Hong Kong families stuck to their plans and left for Okinawa and Hokkaido, preparing for the possibility of a longer return to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Airlines has announced that it will cancel flights to Sapporo and Okinawa starting tomorrow, and will offer full refunds to passengers who booked seats on one of the routes starting tomorrow.

There will be scheduled flights for returning passengers from Sapporo tomorrow, Saturday and January 1st and 4th, and flights from Okinawa will be operated between tomorrow and January 3rd.

Cathay Pacific is understood to be canceling flights to Fukuoka and Hokkaido until tomorrow, January 8, but return flights will operate as normal on charter flights.

Japanese airline Peach Aviation has announced that it will suspend flights between Osaka and Hong Kong from January 20 to February 1.

Refund and flight transfer applications must be made within 30 and 10 days of the original departure date, respectively.

Japan’s largest airline, All Nippon Airways, has announced that it will cancel flights to Narita from January 17 to 31.

Meanwhile, Taiwan will test mainland arrivals for Covid from January 1 as Beijing allows citizens to fly out to protect against outbreaks. The United States is also considering similar entry checks for travelers from China.

Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Control Center announced yesterday that all passengers arriving on direct flights from China will be subjected to high-sensitivity polymerase chain reaction tests upon arrival and quarantined if positive.

US officials have said they are considering resuming Covid testing for Chinese travelers, citing a “lack of transparent information, including genome sequence data on the virus,” about whether infections on the mainland have increased or new variants have emerged.

Italy, India and South Korea have also increased testing requirements for Chinese tourists.

People arriving in Italy and India must test negative, and Korean authorities have said anyone with a temperature above 37.3C should be tested.

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