Photo/Illutration Passengers at JR Niigata Station board a Shinkansen bullet train on Jan. 3. (Shota Tomonaga)

More people took to the skies or traveled by train over the New Year holiday period due to an absence for the first time since 2020 of restrictions to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Hawaii proved to be an especially popular overseas destination, with both Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways reporting a 20-fold increase in traffic between Dec. 28 and Jan. 5 in comparison to the same period a year ago.

But the numbers were still far smaller than prior to the pandemic.

ANA said passenger numbers to Hawaii hit only 48.1 percent of the figure three years ago, while JAL said its tally for the comparative period of fiscal 2019 was 56.9 percent.

In terms of domestic travel, ANA handled 1.159 million passengers over the New Year holiday period, an increase of 17.3 percent over the previous year, while JAL took care of 938,000 passengers, an increase of 5.2 percent.

The six companies that make up Japan Railway on Jan. 6 announced their passenger figures for the period between Dec. 28 and Jan. 5. A total of 9.834 million passengers used the 46 main Shinkansen bullet train and local train lines, an increase of 10 percent over last year. But the figure was only 84 percent of the numbers in fiscal 2018 before the pandemic.

East Japan Railway Co. reported a roughly 18-fold increase in use of its Narita Express service, due mainly to the return of foreign travelers to Japan.

(This article was written by Takashi Ogawa and Eishi Kado.)