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Aviation industry in Japan - statistics & facts

Due to Japan’s geography and economic power, moving people and freight via air within its borders, East Asia, and the world is essential. Passengers and cargo are handled in millions each year at many airports spread throughout the country. Consequently, Japan belonged to the best-connected countries worldwide. The deregulation of flight routes and privatization of airport operations have strengthened market mechanisms among domestic airlines and some airport operators. Their latest defeat is the slump in revenues due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

What are Japan’s important airports?

As of April 2021, Japan has slightly less than 100 commercial airports, including 28 major airports and 54 regional airports. The control of the airports usually lies in the hands of either the national or respective regional authorities, except for four major international airports that are company controlled.
The fifth international airport is Tokyo International Airport, known as Haneda International. From 1978 until the opening of Terminal 3 in 2010, Haneda handled domestic flights only, whereas the second capital airport, Narita International, handled primarily international flights. Haneda and Narita, which are the hubs of All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL), have the highest traffic among domestic airports.

The market leaders of Japanese aviation: ANA and JAL

In the past, each flight route used to correspond with one operation-permitting license granted by the authorities. Most licenses were in the hands of either JAL, ANA, or Japan Air System (JAS). Nowadays, market entry relies on permission for operations, and passenger fares only need to be notified to the authorities in advance. The deregulation resulted in new carriers entering the market, but also with various mergers and acquisitions. For instance, JAL bought JAS. Despite numerous carriers and low-cost carriers (LCC) appearing in the domestic market, many of them are either ANA or JAL subsidiaries. The two market leaders moreover hold notable amounts of shares of other domestic carriers. Since the implementation of reforms, the passenger load factor has improved, tickets have become cheaper, and traffic has increased. The trend of liberalization has extended to airports. Aside from the four company-operated airports, Japan is pursuing the privatization of airport operations.

Impact of COVID-19 on Japanese aviation

Travel restrictions resulting from COVID-19 have had a drastic impact on the revenues of airlines and airports. They have affected in particular international operations, but domestic transport has suffered as well: domestic travel is strongly discouraged during states of emergencies. To limit economic ramifications, the Japanese Government has put together two stimulus packages, totaling more than 49.61 trillion Japanese yen. Even Japanese airlines and airport companies that will survive this crisis, their balance sheets will show long-term debts for many years at the government’s fiscal agencies.

Key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Aviation industry in Japan" and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Global aviation

Domestic aviation

Air traffic on domestic local routes

Aerospace manufacturing in Japan

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Aviation industry in Japan

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Aviation industry in Japan - statistics & facts

Due to Japan’s geography and economic power, moving people and freight via air within its borders, East Asia, and the world is essential. Passengers and cargo are handled in millions each year at many airports spread throughout the country. Consequently, Japan belonged to the best-connected countries worldwide. The deregulation of flight routes and privatization of airport operations have strengthened market mechanisms among domestic airlines and some airport operators. Their latest defeat is the slump in revenues due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

What are Japan’s important airports?

As of April 2021, Japan has slightly less than 100 commercial airports, including 28 major airports and 54 regional airports. The control of the airports usually lies in the hands of either the national or respective regional authorities, except for four major international airports that are company controlled.
The fifth international airport is Tokyo International Airport, known as Haneda International. From 1978 until the opening of Terminal 3 in 2010, Haneda handled domestic flights only, whereas the second capital airport, Narita International, handled primarily international flights. Haneda and Narita, which are the hubs of All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL), have the highest traffic among domestic airports.

The market leaders of Japanese aviation: ANA and JAL

In the past, each flight route used to correspond with one operation-permitting license granted by the authorities. Most licenses were in the hands of either JAL, ANA, or Japan Air System (JAS). Nowadays, market entry relies on permission for operations, and passenger fares only need to be notified to the authorities in advance. The deregulation resulted in new carriers entering the market, but also with various mergers and acquisitions. For instance, JAL bought JAS. Despite numerous carriers and low-cost carriers (LCC) appearing in the domestic market, many of them are either ANA or JAL subsidiaries. The two market leaders moreover hold notable amounts of shares of other domestic carriers. Since the implementation of reforms, the passenger load factor has improved, tickets have become cheaper, and traffic has increased. The trend of liberalization has extended to airports. Aside from the four company-operated airports, Japan is pursuing the privatization of airport operations.

Impact of COVID-19 on Japanese aviation

Travel restrictions resulting from COVID-19 have had a drastic impact on the revenues of airlines and airports. They have affected in particular international operations, but domestic transport has suffered as well: domestic travel is strongly discouraged during states of emergencies. To limit economic ramifications, the Japanese Government has put together two stimulus packages, totaling more than 49.61 trillion Japanese yen. Even Japanese airlines and airport companies that will survive this crisis, their balance sheets will show long-term debts for many years at the government’s fiscal agencies.

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