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ANA's low-cost arm to resume flights to Seoul after 2-1/2 years, source says

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FILE PHOTO: Passengers use Peach Aviation's check-in machines at New Tokyo international airport in Narita
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By Maki Shiraki

TOKYO (Reuters) - The low-cost carrier arm of Japan's ANA Holdings, Peach Aviation, is set to resume flights to Seoul from late August, according to a person familiar with the matter, after a 2-1/2-year halt due to the pandemic and strict border measures.

Peach will make six round trip flights a week between Osaka's Kansai International Airport and South Korea's Incheon International Airport starting on Aug. 28, the person said, declining to be identified because the information has not been made public.

The resumption of flights is the latest sign of Japan's slow emergence from some of the world's strictest border measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Peach spokesperson declined to comment, saying the information was not something announced by the company.

The resumption comes as COVID-19 cases in South Korea are seen falling, and as there are expectations that strained bilateral relations will improve under the new administration of South Korean President Yoon Seok-youl.

Peach was forced to cut back services in 2019 when tension flared up between the two countries and the number of passengers to Japan fell. It then halted almost all of its international flight services in March 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19.

It temporarily restored flights to Taipei in 2021, but services between major Japanese cities to 17 international destinations including Shanghai and Hong Kong have not been resumed. Its international services made up about a half of its revenues.

Flights between Tokyo's Haneda Airport and Seoul's Gimpo International Airport are also set to resume on Wednesday, with Korean Air Lines Co Ltd and Asiana Airlines Inc to be first.

(Reporting by Maki Shiraki; Writing by Satoshi Sugiyama; Editing by David Dolan and Mark Potter)