Feb 6, 2017

Outbound fuel surcharges to surge on Japan’s flag carriers

Outbound fuel surcharges to surge on Japan’s flag carriers photo

Will an increase of fuel surcharges on outbound flights with ANA and JAL bother you?

Until the long overdue advent of budget airlines on these shores there may well have been a debate among expats in Japan about whether or not the cost-performance of leaving the country during holiday periods was more favorable than taking a ‘staycation’; a vacation somewhere within the country. Why fork out the tens of thousands of yen for a few days at an onsen town when you could fly to somewhere in Asia for about the same price, avoid the crowds, and tick another country off the ‘bucket list’?  

LCCs (Low Cost Carriers) have arguably made the domestic vs overseas vacation choice a tougher one to make, as Japan’s travel industry tipped the scales back towards the direction of the domestic vacation. And it looks like another move might add more weight to the same side.

An article in the Nikkei Asian Review (Feb. 6. 2017) reports that Japan’s major ‘flag’ carriers Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airlines (ANA) are set to increase their own surcharges for fuel on flights out of Japan. Air travelers may well have to expect charges to double, with Nikkei citing North American and European flight surcharges potentially rising to 7,000 yen from the current 3,500 yen.

Reasons cited for the increase are the last U.S. presidential election and a decision by OPEC (The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) to cut oil production.  

The new fuel surcharges are expected to come into effect from April this year.

Of course, when many expats in Japan are having to dig deep to shell out the 100,000 yen plus fares to make visits to family and friends back home, an additional ~ 3,000 yen might seem negligible. There’s also a strong likelihood that surcharges have been missed amongst the many layers of charges/fees that often make up the bill for comparatively large purchases in Japan.  

However, in regards to the impending increase, tickets BOUGHT as late as March will be subject to the current (and cheaper) surcharge, which could well mean an even bigger rush to snap up seats on planes heading out of Japan during peak seasons like Golden Week (end of April / start of May) and summer.  

Now, some of us may not care so much about the minutia of costs to this extent, but in this expat’s experience, many Japanese people do. Another experience, and maybe this is just me, is that leaving your flight planning to the last minute could saddle you with misplaced gripes about locals having booked up all the seats for their indulgent vacations while you’re left wondering if you’ll be able to afford to get home and see the family.  

Ever felt like this?

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Nikkei Asian Review


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