Japan quake to jolt S. Korean aviation, tourism: analysts

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Japan quake to jolt S. Korean aviation, tourism: analysts

Japan's powerful earthquake is expected to have a severe negative impact on South Korea's airlines and tour companies as the quake-hit country is their biggest market, analysts said Monday.

Sales of Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea's top carrier, on its routes to Japan represented 15 percent of its overall sales last year, while those of No. 2 carrier Asiana Airlines Inc. accounted for 22 percent.

"As for South Korean air carriers, the Korea-Japan route is the most lucrative one. An expected fall in passenger traffic on the route is forecast to hurt their earnings in the short term," said Park Eun-gyung, an analyst at Samsung Securities Co.

In the aftermath of the quake, Korean Air suspended flight services on the route between Incheon, South Korea's main gateway, and Akita,

Japan, while Asiana halted flights on the routes to Sendai and Ibaraki, Japan.

Along with South Korea's major carriers, the country's tourism companies will also be negatively affected, analysts said.

According to the state-run Korea Tourism Organization, the number of Japanese tourists to visit South Korea stood at 3.02 million last year, topping the 3 million mark for the second straight year.

Japanese tourists accounted for 34.3 percent of all foreign tourists here in 2010.

South Korean tourists to Japan represented more than 20 percent of the total outbound tourists here last year for Hana Tour Service Inc. and Modetour Network Inc., the country's two major tourism companies.

"Sales of Hana Tour and Modetour are expected to be hit by Japan's earthquake as demand for travel to Japan is forecast to fall for sometime," said Kim Yoon-jin, an analyst at Daishin Securities Co, in a report. [Yonhap]

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