How The Paris Attacks Have Impacted Airlines

Filed Under: Air France/KLM, Japan Airlines

Any sort of terror attacks can greatly impact airlines. Part of the concern from passengers can be out of hysteria (I know plenty of people who think it’s “dangerous” to go just about anywhere at the moment), while another part of the concern can be over practicality (I answered a reader question recently about someone who didn’t want to go to Brussels because they were shutting down a lot of public transportation in light of the attacks).

With that in mind, what has been the impact of the Paris attacks on passenger numbers for airlines?

Air France & KLM said that the Paris attacks cost them €50m in revenue for the month of November, while the impact seems to have largely worn off after that. Via BBC:

In its monthly traffic update, Air France-KLM said: “The negative impact of the Paris attacks on total November revenues is estimated to be around €50m ($54m, £36m).

“Current booking trends are in line with a progressive recovery including a very limited impact on volumes after the end of December 2015.


One airline is claiming that the impact of the attacks has been much more extreme. Japan Airlines will be suspending their Tokyo Narita to Paris route between January 12 and February 29, 2016. Japan Airlines also operates a flight between Tokyo Haneda and Paris, which they’ll be operating as usual — so they’re basically “consolidating” the two flights.

How much does JAL claim their bookings have been impacted following the attacks? Via Business Traveller:

In the case of Tokyo Narita, a JAL spokesperson said that passenger volumes have declined by 60 per cent. Tokyo Haneda is not so badly affected, with a slightly more modest 40 per cent decline.

Wow! A decrease of passenger volumes of 60% on one route and 40% on the other route? That’s extreme.

The Haneda route (which will continue to operate) is flown by a 777-300ER, while the Narita route (which is being suspended) is flown by a 787-8.


For a while I’ve been noticing a lot of award space on both of JAL’s flights between Paris and Tokyo, so the weak passenger numbers don’t come as a surprise.


At the same time, I’m not sure I buy that this is actually directly linked to the Paris attacks. Paris to Tokyo is arguably an overserved market, and the service is being suspended in the dead of winter. I can’t imagine the supposed “decrease in passenger volumes” is directly linked to the Paris attacks, but just reflects the overall capacity in the market combined with seasonality of the route. Perhaps the attacks were the last straw.

Bottom line

If nothing else, I find it interesting how different airlines are claiming these attacks have impacted them. It’s no surprise that there was an impact on revenue in November for Air France, given the number of immediate cancellations. However, they claim the impact is limited after that. Meanwhile you have Japan Airlines claiming that they’re experiencing 40% and 60% decreases in demand, which seems a bit extreme.

What do you make of JAL suspending one of their Paris routes? Is it mostly a response to seasonality, or really linked to the Paris attacks?

  1. Japan is far away from France, and you never know how the media have been reporting on the question. If there’s a lot of fearmongering within their press, it’s understandable that they would want to fly less to France…

    As a French guy in London, I can tell you that Eurostar prices weren’t as high as usual this Christmas, which is a first. I was trying to wait a bit to try to keep my status (it’s revenue based), but it just didn’t reach the amount 2 weeks out — it’s usually at full price before the end of November…

  2. I have flown from Tokyo to Paris twice since the attacks. Once on an empty ANA flight (load factors <30%), and once on a totally full AF flight.

    I think the Japanese airlines are mainly carrying O&D passengers on this route due to their lack of connecting partners at CDG. On the other hand, AF has the luxury of carrying a lot of people connecting to/from other European countries.

  3. Goes to show the irrationality of many people. Paris in the days after the attack was probably the safest place in the entire world.

    On a different but related note, I’ve heard from several people that in the US, you now have to take coats/jackets off when going through TSA Precheck, as opposed to being able to leave them on before? Reason given to both people who have told me this was a vague “because of the recent attacks.” Can anyone confirm this?

  4. @Andrew – Was keeping coats and jackets on ever a precheck privilege? Outerwear heavier than a sweater or blazer has always been a no no in any security line.

  5. Paris as a destination is extremely idealized in Japan, and is a very popular vacation spot. This idealized version is sometimes so acute that the disconnect between reality and the ideal can cause a sudden shock.

    It is called Paris Syndrome

    The Paris attacks would be a very public expression of this disconnect. I imagine many trips were cancelled. ANA and JAL would be hit hard by this.

  6. Lucky I can confirm that it is due to the Paris attacks.
    They sent emails out to emeralds a few days back to cut out the Narita – cdg route.
    Media here. Makes the Japanese population go into shock for sure

  7. It’s because they are Japanese! They over react and panic more than anyone else. My wife is Japanese and ever since the 3/11 tsunami and Fukushima disaster, she refused to go back to Japan since and refuse to eat anything imported from Japan, and her mom decided to sell everything she had in Japan and migrated to Australia.

    After hearing the Paris attack, not only she asked me not to go to Paris, she asked me not to go to Europe at all!

    So I wouldn’t be surprised that majority of the Japanese thinks the same way.

  8. Oh, and my wife just told me that she received an email from the Japanese consulate to not make unnecessary trips to Paris. So even the government is behind this.

  9. I remember a few years back in the aftermath of the earthquake/tsunami/nucleur meltdown PE fares SYD-NRT were a third of what they are now.

  10. Another fun data point: Air France quoted me about 500,000 yen for a return business class ticket from Tokyo to Paris this week, while JAL wanted 900,000 yen.

  11. Same situation in China :

    My wife’s family came from China to visit us in France last week they took Air China direct flight from Beijing to Paris and they said the plane was not even half filled. At first I was surprised to see that the plane was delay almost 5 hours but finally it’s because they didn’t have enough passengers to fill the plane so they joined two flight together ! Finally the plane left with pretty much 100 passenger on board for two flight !!!! (it was a A330 – flight CA875) I believe the plane can take 237 passengers totally.

    When they ask the agent why they said most people are scared of terrorist attack and they just don’t want to take any risk. So the terrorist attack is indeed affecting all the airline in the world with route to Paris.

  12. Just got back from Paris after spending a few weeks there and talked about asked about cancellations at my hotel. They said everyone from Japan, China and America cancelled and did not seem to be re booking. Fellow Europeans not so much. Been there many times and have never been thanked so much for supporting them. Felt more safe there then I do in Seattle.

  13. I’m in Paris now and everything is fine here. I’ve been coming here every year for nearly 25 yrs so I can’t think of anything that would stop me from my visits. The French take security very seriously and I have full confidence in them. You’ll see increased security at large department stores but that’s all I’ve seen different. If you’re thinking of coming here, don’t hesitate.

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