American wants to launch flights from New York JFK Airport; United Airlines from Houston Intercontinental.
American Airlines has submitted a consolidated reply to the Department of Transportation (DOT) to back its proposed nonstop service between John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York and Tokyo Haneda International (HND). The DOT is looking into American Airlines' and United Airlines' proposals. The latter wants to launch a Houston-Tokyo Haneda route.
Delta Air Lines relinquished one daily slot at Tokyo Haneda, creating competition between United Airlines and American Airlines. Both legacy carriers want to obtain this coveted slot and launch a new intercontinental flight. Earlier this month, the DOT launched a comparative selection procedure to select which airline to allocate this daily slot.
American Airlines argued to the DOT that its proposal is overwhelmingly additive and creates new net flights to Tokyo. Instead, United will not create new net flights since it flies daily from Houston to Tokyo’s second airport, Narita. Moreover, if United gets the slot, it would scrap the flight to Narita, opting instead to serve the more centric Tokyo Haneda. American Airlines argued,
“If the Department awards this Haneda slot pair to United, Houston would still have two daily nonstop services to Tokyo, just as Houston has today (…). In fact, Houston will be in the same position (twice daily service to Tokyo) if American is awarded the available Haneda slot pair.”
The airport pair Tokyo Haneda-New York JFK currently has 28 weekly flights. These services are all operated by Japanese carriers, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, each with 14 weekly flights.
United Airlines also flies to the Tokyo area from Newark International (EWR), flying daily to Haneda and Narita.
Therefore, American Airlines believes its proposal is better because it would be the only nonstop US carrier to offer service between JFK and Tokyo Haneda while also breaking United’s “stranglehold” as the only US carrier with nonstop service to Haneda from New York City and the entire northeast United States.
American also believes its proposal would improve the competitive balance for Haneda service, as Delta and United have 42 and 35 frequencies to this Japanese hub, respectively, compared to American’s 21 frequencies.
Beyond that, the New York City metropolitan area is the third-largest area in the United States for Haneda and Tokyo O&D traffic, behind only Los Angeles and Honolulu. Houston is the 13th largest for O&D traffic.
United Airlines said in a filing that it is best positioned to offer a top-notch service to Tokyo Haneda from Houston Intercontinental Airport. This is due to United Airlines' robust network of flights to the Asia/Pacific region.
Additionally, United Airlines has committed to launching the service within 60 days of the final order, while American could take at least four and a half months to open this new service.
Which airline do you think should get the DOT’s green light to obtain Delta’s relinquished slots in Tokyo Haneda? Let us know in the comments below.
Lead Journalist – South America – Daniel comes to Simple Flying with many years of aviation journalism experience, having worked with Mexican publication A21, Roads & Kingdoms, El Economista and more. His degree in journalism allows him to form beautifully crafted and insightful pieces. His specialist knowledge of Latin American airlines and close relationship with the likes of Aeromexico, Avianca, Volaris brings depth to our coverage in the region. Based in Mexico City, Mexico.