Airlines scramble in Japan chaos

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on March 16, 2011

Travel chaos around Japan is continuing as the increasing crisis is making both travellers and airlines nervous. As the news came today of a third explosion and a fire at the nuclear power plant in Tokyo, travel warnings have been issued by most nations, many of which are scrambling to get their citizens out of the country which was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami last week.

German carrier Lufthansa announced yesterday that it would be rerouting flights usually bound for Tokyo to Osaka and Nagoya airports in the southwest of the country. A spokesman said the revised routes could be in place until Sunday or until the situation is more stable in Tokyo.

Osaka is 250 miles away from the capital and Nagoya is 160 miles off course. Those who purchased tickets before Tuesday will be provided with assistance to get to their desired destination by land transportation. Others must however find their own way.

Stopovers on both Swiss International Airlines and Air France have also been changed so crew members do not have to stay in the chaotic capital. Air France will be scheduling stops for crew changes in Seoul for its twice daily flights to Narita Airport in Tokyo, while Swiss International Airlines is operating a modified schedule with stops in Hong Kong.

Yesterday, however, three of America’s biggest airlines, Delta Air, Continental Holdings and American Airlines, said flight plans had not yet been changed.

A spokeswoman for British Airways also said yesterday that their five flights a week to Tokyo would remain for the time being, but confirmed that the airline would look at alternatives if conditions changed.

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