Tokyo Haneda International Airport
Yesterday, we started a new series entitled “Battle for Tokyo Haneda Coveted Slots” (Follow link for Part 1 of the series).
As part of the bilateral agreement between US and Japan in 2010, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) was awarded 4 pairs of slots to US based airlines to operate into Tokyo Haneda International Airport (IATA Airport Code HND). Given its proximity to Downtown Tokyo, all major airlines including American Airlines (IATA Airline Code – AA), Continental Airlines and its subsidiary (CO), Delta Air Lines (DL), Hawaiian Airlines (HA) and United Airlines (UA) all applied for these coveted slots. Who will win?
In 2010, no other country has more cities flying to Tokyo than United States. 4 airlines (AA, CO, DL and UA) flies to Tokyo from 15 cities using mostly Boeing widebodies (747, 767 and 777). Further, DL and UA operate a mini hub in Tokyo (refer to our story on this hub strategy).
Interestingly, of the 15 airports serving Tokyo, only three have direct head to head competition. They are located at ORD, LAX and HNL which have a big Japanese-American population (HNL and LAX) or is operated as a major airline hub (ORD).
Once the DOT opens the application process, AA, CO, DL, HA and UA applied for 4 slots.
All the airports filed in the application already have established traffic into Tokyo. Hawaiian Airlines is the only airline with no direct flight to this city previously.
5 airlines (AA, CO, DL, HA and UA) applied with 11 slots from 8 different airports. It was not surprising that LAX and HNL had overlapped applications due to its larger Japanese-American population.
Airports – Besides LAX and HNL, JFK and DTW were frontrunners serving the US East and MidWest.
Airlines – Hawaiian never had a Tokyo flight and could have been a frontrunner to operate its first flight there.
Here are some observations noted from the application process:
- Due to flight time restrictions from 11pm-7am (local time), cities like bigger hub cities like Chicago and Atlanta were not included
- Both east and west coast flights had outbound and inbound arrival times that were not ideal for connections.
- American Airlines did not include Miami most likely because it did not have the right aircraft to fly the long route at over 7,400nm
- For the same reason, Delta Air Lines needed to use a 747-400 for DTW even though there may not be enough feeder traffic to support the big jumbo and another flight to NRT
- SEA may have been chosen to pick up all remaining passengers from the East Coast that missed earlier flights to Tokyo
After much consultation, DOT awarded the coveted Haneda Airport slots to DL (2 for DTW and LAX), AA (1 for JFK) and HA (1 for HNL) provided that they start schedule no later than end of January 2011. The following is a map of the awarded airlines, cities and their start date:
Here are the press releases from various airlines on the historical decision:
American Airlines – 1. Press Release and Flight Schedule
Hawaiian Airlines – 1. Press Release and Flight Schedule
- Based on the DOT’s slot allocation, over 8,200 seats would be added to the US to Tokyo market if flights were to be operated on a daily basis. The use of premium and economy seat configuration would ensure that different mix of passengers can be catered to for maximum yield.
- Hawaiian Airlines has the best flight times of the 4 options due to the geographical location of HNL. Passengers could enjoy a full day in Honolulu before boarding and would arrive in Tokyo in time for a night’s rest. Inbound passengers could have dinner in Tokyo before boarding the flight to HNL and have good connection options at arrival.
- While American Airlines JFK passengers have a similar experience outbound as Hawaiian, inbound passengers would have to manage an early Tokyo departure and New York arrival. Although arrival time at 515am would provide a lot of connection options, passengers might feel restless.
- This is the same scenario for Delta Air Lines’ DTW flight to HND. Inbound passengers might have to wait longer for connections due to arrival time before 5am local time. The LAX flight would leave very late and arrive in Tokyo early for a head start. The inbound flight scheduled at 1am local time meant that connection options on arrival at 640pm might be more limited. The aircraft would also be under-utilized as it had to wait 20 hours for its next flight.
In the next blog entry, we will examine what happened after flights to Haneda became operational. The plot thickens as one airline had to switch locations while another had to drop their flight entirely. Follow link to next entry.