In November, I wrote about American Airlines announcing their intentions to begin daily service from Los Angeles to Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Over the years, US airlines have been constricted by policies that only allowed their flights to operate to or from Haneda during overnight or early morning hours. American tried and failed with their JFK-Haneda service, arriving at 10:15pm and departing back to the US at 6:15am. Similarly, Delta Air Lines offered nonstop service to Haneda from Detroit, opting to move the flights to Seattle in July, 2012. The Seattle flight was discontinued September 30, 2015.
Thanks to a deal reached between Japan and the United States, US carriers will be given access to a limited number of daytime slots at Haneda. This will be the first time, since 1978, that US airlines have been allowed to operate during the daytime. Per Reuters
Aviation officials from Washington and Tokyo agreed in talks in Japan to give Japanese and U.S. carriers five new slots each between 0600 and 2300, and cut the number of slots between 2200 and 0700 from four to one, Japan’s Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Land said in a news release.
As expected, American and United praised the move by the two governments and have announced that they will shift their flights, from LAX and SFO, respectively, to a daytime slot.
“We thank the U.S. Departments of Transportation and State, as well as the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, for taking this important step to enhance the U.S.-Japan aviation relationship,” said American’s President Scott Kirby
“Offering daytime service to and from the heart of Tokyo will create appealing new business and leisure travel opportunities for our global customers. We congratulate the U.S. Departments of Transportation and State on the successful completion of these important negotiations, and we look forward to providing more convenient access to this key market from our San Francisco hub, where United offers more nonstop trans-Pacific flights than any other carrier.“
With this agreement in place between the two governments, we could see flights beginning around the beginning of the 4th quarter, 2016.
Delta Air Lines
In January, when Delta learned that talks between Japan and the United States were set to resume, they became the talk of the town in Atlanta. Ben Hirst, Delta’s Special Counsel, was quoted as saying “It would cause Delta’s network in Asia to unravel…Ultimately it will make the flights that we operate to (Tokyo) Narita from Atlanta not viable.” in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Whether or not Delta’s claims are valid, it is fairly easy to see why they would be against any sort of deal to ease access to Haneda for their competitors. American and United both have partnerships with airlines that operates hubs at both Tokyo airports, while Delta relies on their own “metal” to fly within Asia.
Though the news is still relatively fresh, that didn’t stop Delta from releasing a scathing report on what should be seen as a consumer friendly move by the two governments.
Delta is deeply disappointed with the final agreement reached today between the U.S. and Japanese governments to incrementally open the Tokyo-Haneda airport. Tokyo-Haneda will remain a severely restricted airport with limited competition. Delta is committed to doing our best to maintain the viability of our current Asian route structure and our Tokyo-Narita hub for as long as possible, recognizing that commercial impacts are imminent. Delta will make a careful assessment and adjust our network accordingly.
In the long run, the move to ease restrictions to Tokyo’s Haneda airport will benefit passengers who wish to cut down travel time to or from the airport. Currently, it takes a minimum of an hour to reach downtown Tokyo from Narita, though it is often much longer if utilizing the Airport Limo Bus, especially during rush hour or the early hours. This is not the first time Delta has reacted in this way when they receive news they don’t like, and it certainly won’t be the last. We saw a similar move when they announced the cancellation of their nonstop service from Atlanta to Dubai, blaming it on the Middle Eastern Three (Emirates, Etihad & Qatar).