US Airlines Request 19 Additional Flights To Tokyo Haneda Airport

Filed Under: American, Delta

American, Delta, United, and Hawaiian, have all just filed with the US Department of Transportation requesting additional flights to Tokyo Haneda. Let’s look at what they’re requesting, and how we got to this point.

Haneda Airport is heavily slot restricted

Tokyo has two airports — Narita and Haneda. Historically Narita has been the primary international airport, while Haneda used to be primarily for domestic flights. However, they’ve slowly been opening up the airport for international flights, and over the years have issued a limited number of additional slots.

Initially all the US slots for Haneda were for departures and arrivals at night.

Still, US airlines have considered Haneda to be desirable, given that it’s so much closer to the city.

US carriers are gaining 12 daytime Haneda slots

Talks have just wrapped up between the US and Japan, and thanks to this, US airlines have the right to 12 additional daytime slots to Tokyo Haneda. It’s interesting how these were made available — the US Air Force Base in Tokyo has agreed to ease up airspace restrictions, meaning that it’ll be easier for the airport to accommodate more flights.

The plan is for these additional 12 slots to be available as of summer 2020, in time for the Olympics that are being hosted there. Japan is excited about these new slots because they’re hoping to boost their tourism.

Now it’s up to the US Department of Transportation to decide how they want to allocate these slots. Airlines make their case to the DOT, and then the DOT decides how to distribute the slots in a way that hopefully maximizes the benefit for consumers, typically maximizing the number of cities that have service.

It’s normal for airlines to request a lot more slots than they’ll actually likely get.

Well, American, Delta, United, and Hawaiian, have all revealed the details of their requests for Haneda slots, so let’s look at the details. In total the airlines are requesting 19 flights for the 12 available slots.

Existing flights to Haneda

Currently US airlines operate the following six daily flights to Tokyo Haneda:

  • American flies from Los Angeles
  • Delta flies from Los Angeles and Minneapolis
  • United flies from San Francisco
  • Hawaiian flies from Honolulu and Kona

American’s additional Haneda frequency requests

American proposes the following four flights:

  • 2x daily Dallas to Haneda flights using 777-200ERs
  • 1x daily Las Vegas to Haneda flight using 787-8
  • 1x daily Los Angeles to Haneda flight using 787-8

It’s not year clear if the two Dallas to Haneda flights would replace the two Dallas to Narita flights or not, while the Los Angeles to Haneda route would represent an additional frequency, and the Las Vegas to Haneda flight would be a new route altogether.

Delta’s additional Haneda frequency requests

Delta proposes the following six flights:

  • 1x daily Atlanta to Haneda flight using 777-200
  • 1x daily Detroit to Haneda flight using A350-900
  • 2x daily Honolulu to Haneda flight using 767-300
  • 1x daily Portland to Haneda flight using A330-200
  • 1x daily Seattle to Haneda flight using A330-900neo

Interestingly in the case of Delta they would simply be moving all of their Narita flights to Haneda, as they don’t want to fly out of Narita anymore. They’re the only one of the “big three” US carriers not to have much connectivity at Narita, since American partners with Japan Airlines and United partners with ANA, while they don’t have an alliance partner with a hub there.

United’s additional Haneda frequency requests

United proposes the following six flights:

  • 1x daily Chicago to Haneda flight using 777-200
  • 1x daily Guam to Haneda flight using 777-200
  • 1x daily Houston to Haneda flight using 777-200
  • 1x daily Los Angeles to Haneda flight using 787-10
  • 1x daily Newark to Haneda flight using 777-200
  • 1x daily Washington Dulles to Haneda flight using 777-200

The flights from Guam, Los Angeles, and Newark, would represent new services, while the flights from Chicago, Houston, and Washington, would be transferred from Narita.

Hawaiian’s additional Haneda frequency requests

Hawaiian is proposing adding 3x daily Honolulu to Haneda flights operated by A330-200s, for a total of 4x daily flights in the market.

It’s not year clear if this would replace their Narita flights or not.

Bottom line

Those are a lot of new flights for Haneda, and I’m curious to see what the DOT selects. Basically they need to eliminate seven of the requested flights, since there are 19 requests for 12 available slots. My initial instinct is that:

  • The Los Angeles to Haneda flight from American will be rejected, since the airline already operates the route nonstop
  • One of the two Dallas to Haneda flights from American will be rejected, since that seems like an overkill
  • Maybe Delta will get one daily flight from Honolulu and Hawaiian will get two daily flights from Honolulu (or something), which would cut two of the requests
  • That would leave four more flights to cut; frankly I’m most curious how the DOT handles Delta’s situation, since they’re not actually adding capacity, but rather are just shifting all of their capacity, which seems to me like it has limited consumer benefit compared to the airlines wanting to add new routes and additional frequencies

I’d certainly say the Las Vegas to Tokyo Haneda route is the most interesting request of the bunch, since it represents the only “true” new service to the Tokyo area for a US airline.

I’m a bit surprised that American still isn’t interested in launching a Haneda flight from one of their other hubs, be in Charlotte, Philadelphia, Miami, or Phoenix. It would almost certainly be approved since it would be a new market, but I guess they still don’t think they can make it work.

What do you make of these requested flights to Tokyo Haneda?

  1. AA is completely omitting their East coast hubs from the party. Great opportunity to launch a flight to Asia from PHL or CLT. Hell, this is a perfect time to launch MIA to HND.

  2. PHL has been lobbying for flights to Asia for decades. If management couldn’t convince AA to start a PHL-HND flight then I don’t know what’s going on there.

  3. Surprised delta didn’t try BOS. It would be a huge addition to their growth proposition there. And new international Boston routes have performed very well in the last 5-7 years after a lull in the previous decade.

  4. United and LAX… Lots on inconsistency in this article on that front. United *doesn’t
    * currently serve Haneda from LAX…

  5. United already has a GUM-NRT flight, so will the proposed HND flight replace it?

    Also strange move by Delta to move all traffic from NRT to HND. They already run some feeder flights via NRT like MNL-NRT. Would those move too?

  6. “The Los Angeles to Haneda flights from American and Delta will be rejected, since the airlines already operate those routes nonstop”

    Los Angeles isn’t part of Delta’s application.

  7. AA must know a thing or two about their passenger numbers to not consider phl-hnd despite the push from lobbyers.

    Furthermore, Narita isn’t dying as some may think. It is merely going to transition away from bring an international, more specifically US carrier hub.

  8. AA thinks that the Vegas route is better than Phoenix? I would think that PHX would be better since it provides connections. But I’m sure they know what there doing, I’d just like to know what.

  9. I’m booked to fly Delta MSP-HND in May 2019 on a daytime flight. So your comment on this route is a little misleading. Either way, its such an easier airport to get to – so more frequency is certainly a good thing.

  10. Wow. Your analysis of Delta at Narita is just wrong: “They’re the only one of the “big three” US carriers not to have much connectivity at Narita, since American partners with Japan Airlines and United partners with ANA, while they don’t have an alliance partner with a hub there.”

    Narita is a hub. Until quite recently, Delta and before that Northwest had as many as a dozen or more intra-Asia connecting flights to and from Narita.

  11. and it was so hilarious watching all those UA h8ers on how EWR is the shithole while premium traffic exclusively use JFK …

    and when push comes to shove, when it’s time for either AA or DL to prove them right and prove me wrong, AA picked a random LAS flight (and it’s not like AA LAS’es presence or market share is anywhere remotely comparable to their presence at RDU or BOS to begin with), and DL threw in 2 filler apps for HNL and ****NADA**** for all the JFK chest thumping.

    and that’s before mentioning that a current Star Alliance pax, without accounting for any of these proposals, could already fly nonstop to HND from 6 airports in continental North America (SFO LAX ORD JFK YVR YYZ) plus HNL.

  12. The Japanese love Vegas, which explains why AA wants LAS over Charlotte, Philly or Miami. Plus those longer flights are hard to economically justify unless to a major business center like New York. East Coast flyers can connect through DFW or LAX.

  13. @FNT Delta Diamond

    Key words being “up until recently.”

    Does having two intra-Asia flights (that are more than likely to be cut if they somehow snag all 6 HND requests) still qualify NRT as a hub? (Hint: it doesn’t.)

  14. and whenever you hear people (from all 3 airlines but more on AA and UA) how the new service reduces “non-hub connectivity”, he isn’t caring about the airline’s “connectivity one bit”

    that’s their dog whistle for “how dare they inconvenience my quarterly *business *cough* trip to BKK with a longer connection”

    (and usually coming from trolls who don’t realize, or purposely neglect to mention that, if you’re in eastern time zone to begin with, flying east via FRA/MUC/ZRH offers very competitive total travel time compared to any NE Asian hub.)

  15. Haneda is great if you are going to Tokyo, but there are more connections in Narita if you are going onward.

  16. To be honest, I don’t think a HND-MCO route should be overlooked by Delta, as the already have a strong network out of Orlando and it is a massive destination for Asians

  17. I think Americans LAS route will be to help them get their 4 slots as there currently isn’t a non stop to Japan and Vegas and will add a new route from Haneda.

  18. At this rate, Narita will end up being a mere gateway for low-cost carriers and non-alliance airlines…

  19. @ Henry LAX I’m on the east cost (IAD) and I fly to Asia a few times a year. It’s also worked out better timing-wise to fly westward (ok, polar route) and connect in Asia than to fly eastwards to Europe and connect there.

    For example, Washington-Osaka, which has no direct flight so a connection is always required. Of the top 20 shortest duration routings if I fly next week, 18 of those are westward, via NRT, HND, ICN, LAX, or HKG. Only 2 of the 20 are eastward routings, both via FRA on LH.

    I wouldn’t mind flying via Europe, but every time I look up itineraries, it’s always faster to go westward.

  20. Isn’t AA currently operating a 789 on LAX-HND? Is the 788 the same frequency with smaller equipment? 788 (with what? 20 J seats) doesn’t seem like the right equipment to send to a major business airport…

  21. Really surprised neither AA nor Delta requested a JFK-HND route. Do they think the NYC market is too saturated to make a buck?

    But I love the Las Vegas idea. It captures those sweet gambling dollars, and gives AA a fresh route for their pitifully under-utilized 788’s.

  22. PDX and LAS have mere chance.

    AA’s LAX is already codeshare with JL, 3X daily would decrease the competition.

    Other than HA, HNL has little chances for others since NH will fly A388 from NRT. It’s unlikely to make profits. DOT don’t want anyone abandoning again due to low profits.

    I bet no one getting LAX, the South hubs and Greater New York Area would be granted.

  23. I think UA will get Guam, Dulles, and San Francisco, AA will get one Dallas and Las Vegas, Hawaiian will get 2x HNL, and DL will get ATL,DTW,PDX,SEA, and 1x HNL.
    The DOT ruled in favor of DL last time in giving them the extra slot, so they may do the same this time. Chicago and NYC already have Haneda service from ANA I think (I may be wrong) and LAX already has a lot of frequencies. Houston I think they won’t give because ANA flies there. I think AA is kind of a given, but DL I’m not as sure. But 4 of them are all cities currently unserved by any other carrier (US and Japan) so I feel like they might give it to them.

  24. Flying east from East Coast tends to add a 8-10 hour layover on many routes. Quite a bit different vs going West.

    Keep trolling away though Henry LAX…love the um interesting and spirited defense of UA.

  25. If Delta moves all ops out of Narita -which they clearly want to do now- then look for SIN-SEA on the A350-900 to start soon. Delta will never abandon Singapore as it has high yield J class travelers (sometimes hard to get a non-rev seat on the flight depending on month).

  26. STL to HND much needed fight as it used to be the TWA hub and nearly got approval before 2001 to have a flight to Japan. It would open up the Midwest region more and allow more fights to pass through STL.

  27. Considering that HND is slot restricted, wouldn’t it make more sense for airlines to deploy higher-capacity airplane, such as 777-300 or 777-300ER?

  28. I know the Delta (formerly Northwest) hub at NRT has been mostly shut down over the last few years, but it will still be sad to see it go. I took that NRT-SIN route back in 1996, and remember the hubbub at NRT as all those 747s came in at once. Based on looking at schedules, it looks like Delta will lean on Korean and sending traffic to ICN to make those connections now. Any other Delta Asia flights operating out of NRT besides SIN and MNL?

  29. The DOT is influenced by politics. The last time a slot came up Delta got approval to move a MSP flight from Narita for that slot. AA wanted a new flight from DFW to HND and was going to keep both Narita flights. Delta got the slot because two Democrats Senators from MN pushed the DOT under Obama to get that slot.

    The two Republican Senators from Texas now have the clout and will push for AA to get all 4 slots and UA to get the Houston slot.

  30. Creditian…you say PDX has a “mere chance”. Based on what facts? Perhaps you fail to understand the merits or history of the PDX to Tokyo route (albeit Narita). This route has been flown consistently and successfully by Delta for nearly 15 years (having been operated by Northwest prior to the DL merger). And prior to that the route has historical significance to the early 1990’s having been flown by both Delta and United. PDX to Tokyo on Delta has virtually no feed and this route does quite well based on almost purely O&D. Delta clearly has committed themselves to the PDX to Tokyo market…however based on your comment PDX doesn’t even merit consideration for the HND slots. Please get some facts prior to making such an un-informed statement.

  31. I’d be curious to see if AA backed off on adding ORD/PHL/CLT/MIA because of the potential of JAL adding them. How many slots are JAL/ANA adding to the US?

  32. I think Las Vegas will certainly be approved. This route makes sense for American more than an East Coast flight! Splitting Honolulu between Delta and HA makes sense to. Delta’s request to move all flights from Narita to Haneda should not happen. Direct United flights from LAX or EWR would be a nice addition as well

  33. WOW!!!
    Can’t believe EVERYONE miss this so far.

    Most likely East Coast is out for airlines because of aircraft utilization. Time slots will play a huge factor and airlines don’t want to bet a 777/787/350 at DOT’s mercy. It’s not easy to turn around a 777 from HND. If spot timing is wrong that 777 can sit idle for a long time. Can’t think of many routes that can fill a 777 at a less convenient time.

  34. So the US Air Force base in Japan can give up air space restrictions? Feels like fair game any airline should be able to ask for these slots if this is possible? Please explain if I miss something?

  35. The bigger pictures is that this is probably the end of NRT as a North American gateway, and generally bad news for Tokyo as an Asian hub – HND will provide good domestic Japan connections, as well as connections to some other Asian cities, but without the frequencies and reach that NRT once used to offer.

  36. I think that the 12 slots will be allocated to:

    United (4) – Newark, Chicago, Washington-Dulles, and Houston
    American (3) – Dallas, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas
    Delta (3) – Seattle, Detroit, and Atlanta
    Hawaiian (2) – Honolulu

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