Tokyo Haneda Coveted Slots Battle – Part 1

Japan Air Transport Co Label

Tokyo Haneda International Airport

There is a battle brewing between American Airlines (IATA Airline Code – AA), Delta Air Lines (DL) and Hawaiian Airlines (HA) over the coveted right to operate a flight to Tokyo Haneda International Airport (IATA Airport Code – HND). Who will win this battle? We will examine the history of these slots and discuss key considerations over the next few days.


In Part 1, we will provide background including history, timelines and early routes for the Tokyo Haneda Airport.


HND has always been the more desirable airport to travel to due to its proximity to downtown Tokyo (~9 miles / 14km) over Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT) (~41 miles / 66 km).

Distance Between Haneda Airport and Narita Airport to Downtown Tokyo

Distance Between Haneda Airport and Narita Airport to Downtown Tokyo
Source: Google Map

History and Key Timelines

It is the 4th busiest airport by passengers in 2013 (follow our story on the world’s busiest airports). Opened in 1931, the airport has more than 80 years of non-stop operations with key timelines noted below:

Tokyo Haneda Key Timelines

Opened in 1931, Tokyo Haneda has been used for various purposes for over 83 years. Infographic was created by Experience The Skies on January 5, 2015. (All Rights Reserved)

The airport was used primary for passenger, mail and cargo operations to destinations within Japan and Korea in the 1930s. The primary airline at that time was Japan Air Transport Co. which is now Japan Airlines.

JAT Timetable from 1934

Japan Air Transport Co. Timetable from 1934 (including schedule and prices). Image credit to and taken on January 5, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

Once WWII and its aftermath (late 1930s to 1952) was over, the airport returned to its roots as a passenger, mail and cargo operations. One of the first international flight to Haneda was from Paris Orly on Air France’s Constellation in 1952.

In 1978, Narita International Airport (NRT) opened east of downtown Tokyo and all international flight operations except those to the Republic of China were moved there.

In 2007/2008, Haneda was once again permitted to operate short distance international flights (such as Tokyo to Hong Kong) departing between 8:30 PM and 11:00 PM and arriving between 6 AM and 8:30 AM as the airport does not have the same noise restrictions as Narita. This created new opportunities for Japanese domestic airlines to introduce flights across Asia.

Further in 2008, the Japanese Ministry of Transport announced that international flights would be allowed between Haneda and any overseas destination. However, they must be operated between 11 PM and 7 AM local time.  New flights from London (British Airways), Vancouver (Air Canada), New York (American Airlines) were introduced but were not successful due to this inconvenient time slots. Passengers also were not pleased with the lack of transportation  and airport amenity options after midnight.

Follow link to part 2.