SEOUL – South Korean carrier Korean Air announced on Monday that it will suspend one of its flight routes to Japan owing to falling demand in the midst of heightened trade tensions between the two countries.
South Korea’s largest airline will stop its three regular weekly flights between Busan and Sapporo in northern Japan, the company said in a press conference.
The airline attributed the decision to a decline in demand for the route and growing competition from low-cost carriers, Korean Air said.
Relations between South Korea and Japan are at their lowest point in recent decades due to a dispute over compensation to South Korean workers forced into labor during Japanese colonial rule.
In an apparent response to a South Korean court decision ordering Japanese companies to compensate affected workers and their families, Tokyo on July 1 restricted exports of basic chemical materials acquired by South Korean companies to manufacture screens and memory chips of computers, servers, TV sets and smartphones.
The measure drew condemnation from the industry in South Korea as well as its government, which announced its intention to take the matter to the World Trade Organization if Tokyo failed to respond to its calls to negotiate a resolution, while the Japanese government plans to apply additional trade restrictions.
In recent days, South Korean civil organizations and business owners have called for a boycott of Japanese products while several demonstrations have been staged in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul to protest against the restrictions.