ANA Boss Says It’s Time For Japan Travel Restart

It’s not just powder hungry foreigners who think its time for a Japan travel restart. Shinya Katanozaka, President and CEO of the country’s number 1 airline, All Nippon Airways (ANA) Holdings Inc, has done an Alan Joyce and pleaded with the government to open up international travel.

ANA has increased its projected loss to ¥125 billion ($1.11 billion) for the Japanese financial year to March 31, after a 95% decline in international air traffic during the pandemic.

After peaking in August at 20,000 cases daily new covid infections in Japan are down to 200 now, as Katanozaka told a Reuters interview it was time for the government to ease controls.

Fresh snow in Hakuba this week had many of us dreaming of getting back there © Hakuba Valley

“When we are able to make money we should be allowed to, it will give us the strength to weather things in the future” he said on Thursday.

Pressure is building within Japan for re-opening, but so far the government response has been ultra-cautious.

Following the October 31st election, which returned the LDP Government, there was speculation the limit for daily arrivals would be lifted from 3,500 to 5,000 but this has still not happened.

Even when it is, there’s a backlog of 370,000 people waiting to get into Japan according to Nikkei Asia.

Quarantine for business travellers has been reduced to 3 days from November 8, but the paperwork and restrictions remain onerous.

“I am working on getting the screening document for a  short term business visa” one ex-pat Myoko ski lodge owner told Snow Action. “I need to submit 6 documents: 1 application, 2 oath, 3 schedule/plan, 4 list of travellers, 5 passport copy, 6 vaccination certificates. Number 1, 2 and 3 are the tricky ones. Talk is that the screening document will take between 2 and 10 weeks. So Japan is still tightly controlling who can enter” she says.

You can check the requirements and apply on the link here.

At this stage you cannot apply for a working holiday visa, tourist visa or enter on a visa exemption scheme from Australia.

Australian PM Scott Morrison said last week that a travel bubble with Japan and South Korea was on the cards for later this year, which was hyped up by tour operators reporting it. But he gave no detail, there is no fixed timetable, and meantime the situation remains a no-go for recreational travel with the convoluted process for business and student entry.

“Some long term visas are also now available” says our Myoko lodge owner, “similar rules. Before they were not issuing any.”

Let’s hope the prodding from ANA boss Katanozaka helps move things along. As the snow starts falling the urge to get back into it is growing.

When we can fly there again, ANA gets our vote as the World’s cleanest airline, being a worthy winner of the Skytrax award for that. Pre-covid we did a Japan – USA – Japan trip with the Tokyo – LAX flights ANA one way, codeshare United the other. Despite both operating 787s on the route, it was night and day: almost every time someone uses the washroom it gets cleaned on ANA, versus only if you complain on United..