October 19, 2018 / 3:11 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Japan Airlines' passenger numbers tumble in the wake of natural disasters

(Adds current business performance)

By Jamie Freed

JEJU, South Korea, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Japan Airlines Co Ltd’s international traffic slid around 20 percent in September and domestic traffic fell about 10 percent in the wake of natural disasters, its president said on Friday.

The airline plans an update on the financial impact of a typhoon that damaged Osaka’s Kansai Airport and an earthquake in Hokkaido when it releases second-quarter results at the end of this month, President Yuji Akasaka told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference.

International passenger numbers are still down about 10 percent from normal levels, he said. In the domestic market where JAL is offering discounted fares in to encourage travel, leisure traffic remains weak although business traffic has returned to normal.

“In terms of revenue we expect some effect on our numbers,” Akasaka said via a translator.

Japan Airlines forecast in April a 4 percent drop in operating profit to 167 billion yen ($1.5 billion) for the financial year to end-March.

Japan’s government has been heavily promoting the country as an tourism destination to help boost the economy. However, the natural disasters led to a 5.3 percent fall in foreign visitors in September, the first year-on-year decline since January 2013, the Japan National Tourism Organization said on Tuesday. ($1 = 112.2900 yen)

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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