Delta retains Tokyo slots amid accusations of “bias”

Delta will continue to operate its Seattle-Haneda route (photo by Chris Parypa Photography)
Delta will continue to operate its Seattle-Haneda route (photo by Chris Parypa Photography)

Aviation authorities in the US have ruled that Delta Air Lines can keep both its slots at Tokyo Haneda Airport – for now.

According to the existing bilateral agreement between the US and Japan, US-based airlines can only operate four daily flights at Haneda. At present, Delta holds two of these (from Los Angeles and Seattle), with Hawaiian Airlines (from Honolulu) and United Airlines (from San Francisco) holding the remaining two.

Hawaiian and American Airlines had applied to the US Department of Transport (DOT) to take Delta’s Seattle slot, with Hawaiian wanting to use it for a route to Kona and American planning to launch services from LA. But the DOT has ruled that Delta can keep both its slots at Haneda, including the Seattle service.

But there is a condition; the DOT said that if Delta’s Haneda-Seattle service continues to fail, it will reassign the slot to American.

“Delta thanks the US Department of Transportation for its tentative decision to allow the airline to continue its service between Seattle and Haneda Airport in Tokyo,” the Atlanta-based carrier said in a statement.

“Earlier this month, Delta resumed its nonstop service between Seattle and Haneda after a temporary seasonal suspension. Delta will operate year-round, nonstop flights between Seattle and Haneda as we continue to grow Delta’s international gateway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.”

Hawaiian was unhappy with the ruling however, saying it reflected “a long-held institutional bias among decision-makers” in terms of favouring the business travel market over leisure travel.

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