JR West to Consider Furlough Again over Coronavirus

Economy

Tokyo, Jan. 19 (Jiji Press)--West Japan Railway Co. <9021>, or JR West, will consider putting employees on temporary leave again following the declaration of a fresh state of emergency over the novel coronavirus, it has been learned.

"We will study the possibility of conducting a furlough scheme" as demand has been falling back since late last year, JR West President Kazuaki Hasegawa said in an online press conference on Monday.

JR West put a furlough program in place from May 16, 2020, through the end of July the same year, the first such measure for the railway operator since it and other Japan Railways (JR) Group firms were born out of the 1987 breakup and privatization of the Japanese National Railways, in the wake of a plunge in the number of passengers amid the epidemic.

Passenger demand at JR West, which had been recovering since the Japanese government launched the Go To Travel campaign last July, has been decreasing again recently due to a resurgence of the coronavirus. The number of passengers for its Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train line dived 60 pct from a year before in December last year and about 70 pct in the first 14 days of this month.

Hasegawa said that the number of passengers on the company's Shinkansen and other express trains dropped further on Saturday and Sunday, the first weekend since the fresh coronavirus state of emergency was declared for three prefectures in the Kansai western Japan region, the main service area for JR West.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press