Saturday, January 10, 2015
American Airlines Wants To Kick Delta Out Of Tokyo
This week, American Airlines applied to the US Department of Transportation for permission to offer nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Tokyo's Haneda Airport.
Hawaiian Airlines filed a similar application to fly from Kona.
Normally, this news wouldn't be a big deal. But in this case, there's a catch. The Haneda Airport landing slot American and Hawaiian covet already has an owner: Delta Airlines.
According to the Dallas Morning News, a US-Japan bilateral agreement limits US airlines to just four daily round-trip flights to Haneda.
The four flights are currently operated by Delta from Seattle and Los Angeles, Hawaiian from Honolulu, and United from San Francisco.
So why are airlines fussing over Haneda when Tokyo also has Narita International Airport, another world-class facility?
Haneda is located much closer to downtown Tokyo and is the preferred destination for the first-class and business travelers airlines crave.
In fact, according to Nikkei, even a single low-cost domestic route out of Haneda can generate $19.3 million in annual revenue for an airline. The amount of cash that high-priced international routes can generate is even greater.
This week's application is American's second attempt to dislodge Delta from its Haneda slot since Delta reduced the frequency of its flights from Seattle. American and Hawaiian accuse Delta of underutilizing the route by operating what they call "seasonal service." American says its flights from LAX will offer steady service year-round.
"With only four authorized daily flights for US airlines between Haneda and the United States, it is imperative that American be allowed to compete," American Airlines President Scott Kirby said. "We are the only US global network carrier without the authority to operate our own aircraft at Haneda."
Should Delta lose its Seattle-to-Haneda slot, the airline will still have a significant presence in the Japanese capital. The Atlanta-based carrier will continue to operate its LAX-to-Haneda route, in addition to numerous flights in and out of Tokyo's Narita International Airport.