11,000 cancelled Japan-China flights amid row: airlines

More than 11,000 people have cancelled flights between China and Japan since a territorial row broke out over disputed islands last month, Japanese carriers said Tuesday.

Japan Airlines said it has seen about 3,100 customers call off flights from Japan to China, and some 500 cancellations from China to Japan, since the dispute intensified between the Asian rivals in September.

Japan's other big carrier, All Nippon Airways, said the number of cancellations totalled more than 7,500, of which about 60 percent accounted for those travelling from Japan, between September 17 and October 12.

"Those cancellations have appeared to have resulted from the tensions with China," an ANA spokeswoman said.

JAL president Masaru Onishi told reporters that if the situation worsens, "the company will need to consider cutting the number of flights".

The territorial row began when Japan arrested a Chinese trawler captain on September 8 near disputed islands in the East China Sea, a conflict that intensified after Tokyo extended his detention 10 days later.

Beijing issued a barrage of protests, scrapped high-level talks, cancelled bilateral cultural events and, according to Japanese traders, restricted crucial rare earth exports used in high-tech products.

Both nations have sought to arrange a premiers' summit later this month to ease the worst spat in years, but nationalist passions have been inflamed on both sides, triggering emotional street protests at the weekend.

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