US carriers battle for Tokyo Haneda slots

American Airlines has applied for permission to operate a new route to Tokyo Haneda Airport, at the expense of one of Delta Air Lines’ existing flights.

As per the existing bilateral agreement between the US and Japan, US-based airlines can only operate four daily flights at Haneda. At present, these slots are being used by Delta Air Lines (from Los Angeles and Seattle), Hawaiian Airlines (from Honolulu) and United Airlines (from San Francisco).

American is planning to fly a Boeing 777 daily between LA and Haneda
American is planning to fly a Boeing 777 daily between LAX and Haneda

But now both American and Hawaiian say they are seeking a “reallocation” of these slots by the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

American is planning to add a new LA-Haneda service and wants the DOT to take consider reassigning Delta’s existing Seattle service. The airline argues that the “Los Angeles-Tokyo market is almost five times larger than Seattle-Tokyo”.

“With only four authorised daily flights for US airlines between Haneda and the United States, it is imperative that American be allowed to compete,” said American’s president, Scott Kirby.

“We are the only US global network carrier without the authority to operate our own aircraft at Haneda. American’s proposed Los Angeles-Haneda service will increase competition in the Haneda market and make the most of underutilised operating rights by giving millions of consumers and shippers a new, viable travel option to Haneda that they don’t have today.”

If approved, the LA-Haneda route would be operated daily, all-year-round, using a Boeing 777-200 aircraft.

But American faces competition for the slot, with Hawaiian also filing for permission to add a new daily service from Kona to Haneda. It argues that the existing Honolulu-Haneda route is “by far the most, if not only, successful route” of the four Haneda slot pairs granted to US carriers in 2010.

American currently operates flights to Tokyo Narita Airport from Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles, and partners with JAL on its direct service between Haneda and San Francisco. The Kona-Haneda service meanwhile, would become Hawaiian’s fifth Japanese route.

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