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Govt allows underbooked flights to be canceled

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe transport ministry is allowing airline companies, under certain conditions, to cancel unprofitable domestic flights with a low number of bookings.

Under a newly introduced system, air carriers can cancel flights based on their seat reservation rates, which may result in some customers being unable to take the flight they booked.

Airlines are legally required to report to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry if they change their original flight plans, including canceling flights.

Under the new system, an airline company can cancel flights under such conditions as: 1) The company itself operates a flight departing from and landing at the same airport within a range of three hours before and after the canceled flight’s arrival and departure times; 2) It takes necessary measures at least seven days prior to the scheduled date of the flight, including reporting the flight’s cancellation to the ministry, informing customers with booked seats of the cancellation, providing refunds and transferring them to another flight; and 3) It tells customers in advance about the risk of a flight being canceled, via such tools as an online booking website.

The new framework — dubbed “flight reduction for economic reasons” — enables airlines to cut the costs related to operating flights that are likely to end in the red due to insufficient expected revenue from passenger fares.

However, it may be necessary for customers to change their flight and book another one.

The new system was requested by low-cost carriers, which are engaged in a serious price war.Speech

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