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A new air route from Ha Noi to Osaka to open

Japan Airlines is to launch direct flights between Ha Noi and Osaka by the…

Japan Airlines is to launch direct flights between Ha Noi and Osaka by the end of this month in a codeshare agreement with Viet Nam airlines, despite the lingering impact of bird flu on Japanese tourism to Viet Nam.

The airline`s Ha Noi office said the carrier would operate four flights per week between the two cities. This will be the third route for the airline between the two countries, joining the Ha Noi-Tokyo and HCM City-Osaka routes.

Office general director, Ryokichi Tada, said that although there was enormous business potential for these flights, he did not expect a high load factor during the first flights as the avian flu, although contained in Viet Nam, still discouraged Japanese from traveling overseas.

Viet Nam is as safe as Japan, Tada said when he was asked to send a message to reluctant Japanese tourists.

In April and May, we cannot expect many Japanese tourists to visit Viet Nam. After that, passengers will increase. There is a big demand in Japan, he said.

Japan is now one of the biggest tourist feeder markets for Viet Nam, sending nearly 300,000 visitors last year. The Vietnamese government abolished visa requirements for Japanese coming to Viet Nam in January, hoping to increase the number of Japanese arrivals to 500,000 in 2005.

That expectation has been shored up by the opening of direct flights between HCM City and Fukuoka late last year by Viet Nam Airlines, joining flights from the HCM City to Osaka and Tokyo. Another Japanese airline, All Nippon Airways, is flying the Tokyo-HCM City route.

Viet Nam Airlines deputy Director-General Pham Ngoc Minh said the carrier would launch direct flights between Viet Nam and Nagoya.

However, an exact date has not been set. Tada said the opening of the Osaka-Ha Noi route would bring more tourism and business to northern Viet Nam as Osaka is the second largest city in Japan. Japanese industrial park managers and businessmen in and around Ha Noi had asked the carrier to open this route.

He said demand for the flights would increase because many small and medium sized companies in Osaka had invested in Viet Nam.

He said the Ha Noi-Osaka flights were also convenient for passengers who wanted to connect to other Japanese domestic flights. Japan Airlines planes will fly from Osaka to Ha Noi to Tokyo and vice versa.

Tada said passengers could connect with the Ha Noi-Osaka route at Haneida instead of going to Narita airport. (VNA)

Theodore Koumelis
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