US Department of Transportation
Originally posted on March 28 with updates on June 19, 2015.
Our series of Tokyo Haneda International Airport slot allocation (refer to this link for the first post of the five part series) generated a lot of interest from aviation enthusiast. The US Department of Transportation announced its decision.
Here are the three candidates for the application:
1. Delta Air Lines (DL) – The incumbent who wants to continue serving from Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA). While the airline recognized that the route was suspended over a period of time in 2013 and 2014. It is committed on serving the community with a daily flight re-starting on March 29, 2015 from SEA. The following is the infographics for the flight and plane facts:
2. American Airlines (AA) – The Dallas based airline would like to move its daily flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT) to Haneda.
3. Hawaiian Airlines (HA) – The Honolulu based airline would like to start a new route from Kona International Airport (KOA) to Haneda.
Refer to the infographics for both of these options:
After more than three months of evaluation, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) “tentatively determined that it was in the public interest to permit Delta to retain the Seattle-Haneda route. However, any failure by Delta (absent DOT authorization) to operate any Seattle-Haneda flight, year-round, in either direction, would constitute a violation of its authority. Additionally, any failure by Delta (absent DOT authorization) to perform Seattle-Haneda service on two days of any seven-day period would mean the immediate loss of Delta’s authority.”
As a backup to its decision, the DOT selected American Airlines’ proposal from LAX to HND should Delta Air Lines fail to meet its requirements.
Both American Airlines and Hawaii Airlines have up to April 6, 2015 to file any objectives. Answers to any objections filed will be due by April 13, 2015.
The US Department of Transportation’s decision was the expected outcome. It gave DL permission to move its original flight from Detroit to Seattle because it believed there is a market available to serve Tokyo Haneda passengers originating from/connecting to the Northwest. AA’s chances decreased when its application is moving the daily NRT flight to HND. This went against the Japan authorities’ goal of starting new routes. Finally, KOA is not a big enough city to receive the last slot to HND.
As noted in our series, there is a silver lining to this decision for American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. As daytime slots at Haneda will be granted later this year, these two airlines would likely be able to apply and receive the favorable times. This is especially the case for American Airlines where they can re-launch JFK-HND or start ORD-HND/MIA-HND flights.
June 19, 2015 Update
In a not surprising move, Delta Air Lines decided to pull out of the Seattle to Tokyo Haneda route even after the US Department of Transportation granted them full rights to operate the route on June 15, 2015.
Delta Air Lines has the most daily flights from continental US to Tokyo airports currently. As such, the airline may simply not have enough traffic feeds from other cities or organically from Seattle to sustain two daily flights with more than 400 passengers. This is especially the case for its Delta One product (business class). At Haneda, the Atlanta based airline does not have any feeds from its Asian operations as all the traffic goes to Narita airport.
After Delta ends the flight, it will give the night time slot back to the DOT. American Airlines could be next to receive this slot but the Japanese aviation authority might veto on the grounds that American is only substituting its Narita flight from Los Angeles to Haneda. The authority wants all flights to Haneda to be new and not a substitute from another location.
Another reason why Delta did not mind losing the night time slot is that day time slots may be available soon for application. In this case, Delta can apply for these for its east coast operations.