Although no announcement will be made until July Japan Airlines will cut its Nagoya-Guam daily flight from October.

This news for Guam’s tourism community follows fast on the heels of a loss of JAL direct flights to Saipan – about 44% of Saipan’s Japanese seats. The CNMI government has announced it will send a delegation to Japan.

The loss of flights is part of a company-wide restructuring at the Japanese airline that will see major route restructuring on JAL’s international routes – including Hawaii and Asian routes – in an effort to cut losses following increased fuel costs.

Hisashi Matsuyama vice president and general manager of Japan Airlines in Guam told the Journal the Nagoya-Guam route would be cut. “That’s on the list yes. We are talking about the winter schedule beyond October – it would cease in October. We are reviewing all the international flight routes we have. We are picking out the unprofitable routes.

“We will concentrate on Narita and Kansai ” he said.

JAL has 14 flights weekly on the Narita-Guam route and seven on the Guam-Kansai route. Those routes would remain untouched he said. “I am told from head office this is the final offshore decision and an announcement will be made by end of July ” he said.

Matsuyama said JAL cost-cutting measures would not be limited to reduction of flights but could include staff cuts. “Apart from the reconstruction of flight routes we already have some other plans for reduction of plans overall within Japan Airlines. It’s part of the midterm plan. We are making all other efforts also to minimize our cost and enhance our revenue.” Japan Airlines International Co. has more than 16 000 employees in 107 offices worldwide.

The Guam-Nagoya flight carries an average of 100 passengers a day Matsuyama said. The flight has brought Guam about 44 000 visitors a year – about 4% to 5% of Japanese arrivals in 2004.

Guam may also send a task force to Japan David B. Tydingco president of the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association said. A potential task force held its first meeting on May 25 and would be comprised of the office of the governor GHRA the Guam Visitors Bureau and the Guam International Airport Authority.

Tydingco told the Journal “We did meet and we did explore the alternatives.” He said other airlines that serve Guam were likely to enter into discussions. “Assuming the conditions are right – airport fees and other incentives – they are always willing to talk.”

Continental flies two flights daily on the Guam-Nagoya route.

Richard Parsons manager for Guam and Saipan for Northwest Airlines said “Micronesia is an important part of Northwest’s network.” Northwest introduced its daily Saipan-Nagoya service in October 2003. The flight continues to Tokyo and the U.S. mainland. Parsons said “While we are exploring options to strengthen our Asia Pacific network we cannot speculate on future schedule changes.” MBJ