Last updated: 03:46 PM ET, Thu July 21 2016

Delta, Hawaiian Big Winners As DOT Awards Tokyo Haneda Slots

Airlines & Airports | Delta Air Lines | Josh Lew | July 20, 2016

Delta, Hawaiian Big Winners As DOT Awards Tokyo Haneda Slots

Photo courtesy of Delta

The DOT has made its decision about which airlines will get the potentially lucrative daytime slots at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. 

Like the recent decision on flights to Cuba, the DOT doled out the Haneda spaces to different airlines. Even with this kind-of-even allotment, some airlines came out ahead and some will certainly be disappointed with the decision. 

Why is Haneda important?

Haneda is close to the center of Tokyo, which makes it a more convenient option for fliers whose final destination is in Japan. Also, the airport is ideal for fliers who want to make domestic connections within Japan or fly to other destinations in the Asia Pacific region.

Tokyo's other airport, Narita, also offers plenty of connections to other Asia-Pacific destinations, but it is much further away from the center of the city.  

Japanese carriers were traditionally given the best slots at Haneda, while US-based airlines were limited to a handful of overnight slots. Now that daytime slots are available, US airlines will be able to better compete on US-Tokyo and Tokyo-US routes. 

READ MORE: Agreement to Allow More Flights Between US, Haneda

What did the DOT decide?

Hawaiian Airlines was awarded the one remaining overnight slot at Haneda. It will use the space to fly from Kona to Tokyo. Hawaiian was also given a daytime slot for flights from Honolulu.  

American Airlines and Delta Airlines had asked for multiple daytime slots.

Both applied to fly from Los Angeles. Delta’s second bid was for flights from Minneapolis and American’s was from Dallas. Delta also wanted to fly from Atlanta. The DOT decided to give both airlines slots for their Los Angeles flights. 

Delta’s Minneapolis flight was also given the go ahead at the expense of American’s Dallas service. The explanation for this was that Minneapolis offered the best connections, with people from the East and Midwest able to connect to the Haneda flights without having to take a circuitous route.

The DOT also said that Delta’s lack of a Japanese partner airline played a role in the decision: “we do not overlook the potential competitive benefit of awarding a second slot to Delta, the one remaining applicant in the proceeding for the fifth available daytime slot that lacks a Japanese alliance partner.”  

United, following its recent international strategy, chose to forget about Los Angeles and instead applied to fly to Haneda from San Francisco. This route was approved by the DOT. 

 READ MORE: Hawaiian Airlines Wins Nighttime Flight Slot at Haneda Airport 

Who won?

Hawaiian Airlines and Delta were the major winners at Haneda. Delta has been campaigning hard to get the Minneapolis-Haneda flight, saying that it would discontinue service to Tokyo from Minneapolis if it didn’t get the slot. 

Hawaiian expected to be limited to the one remaining overnight slot, which it was awarded earlier this year after no other airline applied for it. The addition of the daytime slot shows that DOT takes Hawaiian seriously despite the fact that it is much smaller than the other three applicants. 

And the biggest loser?

American Airlines did not get its Dallas-Haneda route. The airline had said that getting this second slot was key to its plans in the Asia Pacific region. AA’s partner airline, JAL, has a large presence at Tokyo Haneda, so connections are very easy. 

It now appears that Delta and United are slightly ahead of American in the race for shares of the lucrative transpacific market. 

Airlines have until August 1 to lodge any complaints with the DOT about its decision. After that time, the slot allotments will be made official. 

For more information on Delta Air Lines, Japan, Tokyo

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