Photo/IllutrationA Korean Air Lines aircraft takes off from Narita Airport. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion

SEOUL--South Korean airlines are set to significantly curtail flights to Japan from September amid growing calls for a travel boycott over worsening bilateral ties that are blamed on actions taken by Japan.

Korean Air Lines Co. said Aug. 20 it plans a sweeping review of services to Japan, including the suspension of a key route linking Busan to Kansai Airport.

The move followed its decision in July to suspend services between Busan and Sapporo from Sept. 3 and an earlier announcement by budget airlines to reduce flights to Japan, many of them services to regional cities.

The actions reflect growing public sentiment in South Korea not to buy Japanese products or travel to Japan.

South Korean visitors to Japan in 2018 reached a record 7.5 million.

Real Meter, a South Korean pollster, released the results of a survey Aug. 19 that found 81.8 percent of respondents had no plans to take a trip to Japan this year.

Korean Air Lines will cancel flights between Busan and Kansai from Sept. 16.

Its flights connecting Incheon Airport near Seoul to Komatsu Airport in Ishikawa Prefecture and to Kagoshima will also be suspended until Nov. 16 from Sept. 29.

The carrier’s services between Incheon and Asahikawa in Hokkaido will be canceled between Sept. 29 and Oct. 26.

From November, Korean Air Lines' flights between Jeju Island and Narita Airport, as well as those linking Jeju Island to Kansai Airport, will also be suspended.

In addition, South Korea’s flag carrier will trim flights connecting Incheon to Kansai, Fukuoka and Okinawa.

In a related development, it was learned Aug. 20 that Asiana Airlines Inc., South Korea’s second largest airline, will fly midsize jets, rather than large aircraft, for routes connecting Incheon to Fukuoka, Osaka and Okinawa.

Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines plan to serve more passengers on flights to China and Southeast Asian countries by introducing large aircraft that have been used for services to Japan.