Leisure and business travel to Japan continue to plummet, as the damaged nuclear reactor continues to leak radiation and scare Japanese and non-Japanese alike. According to Argophilia Travel News (http://www.argophilia.com/), international companies - most of which are deferring non-essential staff travel - report cancelling planned business trips to Japan at rates that range from 60 to 95 percent.
This despite the fact that airlines say they are operating safely during the crisis. The various disruptions of daily life - reduced electrical power, shortages of gasoline, water and food in the northeast of the country, earthquake aftershocks, psychic shock - are overwhelming what good news is coming out of Japan - and, happily, there is some.
Here, edited slightly for length, is the latest statement from the International Air Transport Association (http://www.iata.org/), released over the weekend at IATA's Geneva headquarters:
"The International Air Transport Association welcomed the joint statement issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Maritime Organization (IMO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Meterological Organization (WMO) on the continued safety of air transport operations in Japan. These five organizations confirmed that there are no restrictions to normal air transport operations at Japan's major airports, including both Haneda and Narita (Tokyo's international airports).
"Safety is our number one priority. If it is not safe, we won't fly. Today's joint statement by the five most authoritative United Nations organizations on air transport, nuclear energy, shipping, health and weather confirms that it is safe to operate in Japan,'' said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and chief executive officer.
"The ICAO statement further confirmed that there are no health reasons that would require the screening of passengers emanating from Japan. Moreover, the organizations confirmed that there is no health risk associated with increased levels of radiation that have been detected at some airports. Although not recommended by the UN organizations, several states are implementing screening programs for passengers and flights from Japan.''
The IATA statement continues: "The situation is evolving quickly and is being constantly monitored. Today, the advice is that normal operations are possible. If the advice changes, the industry will comply and transparently keep all informed of the developments,'' said Bisignani.