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Travel & Leisure

Japan-China airfares sink to $50 as virus saps demand

Ticket prices fall by half, with new airport lifting capacity

Beijing Daxing International Airport in July 2019, soon after construction was completed.   © China News Service/Visual China Group via Getty Images

TOKYO -- Prices of China-bound flights from Japan have plunged by half from last year, with the opening of a new Beijing airport last September sharply boosting supply even as the recent virus outbreak drives travelers to steer clear of the country.

Ena, a Japanese discount flight booking website, lists prices as low as 5,000 yen ($45) before taxes and surcharges for round-trip tickets from Chubu Airport near Nagoya to Shanghai and Beijing in February and March, after the Lunar New Year holiday. Tickets can be had for 8,000 yen from Narita and Kansai airports, serving Tokyo and Osaka, respectively.

These fares are 50% to 60% cheaper than at the same time last year, according to Ena operator Airplus, which said that carriers are slashing prices in hopes of attracting Japanese travelers.

The number of flights between Japan and China has grown since late October, after the opening of Beijing Daxing International Airport. About 1,600 commercial flights are scheduled each week between late January and mid-February, 40% more than in the year-ago period, Japan's transport ministry says.

Weekly flights from Chubu Airport have doubled to around 200, resulting in the cheapest fares in the country.

A representative from the main Japanese office of Air China declined to answer questions about the carrier's pricing strategy but noted that the number of passengers from Japan is in line with 2019.

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