Hawaiian Airlines makes its case for Tokyo Haneda slot

Hawaiian Airlines asserts that its plan to fly between Tokyo Haneda and Kona would have triple the economic impact of rival proposals by Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. “Hawaiian will use the largest aircraft proposed in this proceeding and therefore fly the most capacity,” the airline says in a filing to the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Hawaiian has proposed to open a new Haneda gateway as opposed to gateways that have failed or are awash in service.” A mere four flight slots are available to U.S. airlines at Tokyo's close-in Haneda airport. Hawaiian has one for flights to Honolulu, United has one to serve San Francisco, Delta has one to serve Los Angeles, and the fourth one was also assigned to Delta to serve Seattle. The Department of Transportation decided to reconsider that last assignment after Delta cut back three quarters of the service it said it would provide. When the review was announced, Hawaiian filed a request for the slot to serve Kona and American requested it to fly in completion with Delta at LAX. Now the carriers are debating the merits of their respective proposals. “Delta's Seattle service has proven to be a failure, and American proposes to inject more capacity into a market, Los Angeles, that cannot absorb it,” Hawaiian says in its filing. “Indeed, by proposing to use the same flight numbers as its current LAX-Narita service for HND-LAX, American has foreshadowed that grant of its application will come at the expense of current service, undermining any potential incremental benefit of its proposal.” Hawaiian estimates the economic impact of its proposal will be $117 million, compared to $34 million for American and even less if Delta is allowed to keep the Seattle route. It asserts the Kona plan would create nearly 1,000 more U.S. jobs than American's proposal. “Both American and Delta have argued that the Department should favor particular U.S. business interests while ignoring the Administration's tourism policy and the Department's broader public interest mandate. The facts are that the greatest beneficiaries of Hawaiian's proposal will be U.S. businesses and workers,” said Hawaiian, calling its rivals' assertion that the Hawaiian route would mostly benefit the Japanese “jingoistic.” Delta has argued that its Seattle route fluctuates seasonally, but American Airlines, in its own filing, showed that Delta's Narita-SeaTac routes do not fluctuate seasonally. All four Haneda slots for U.S. airlines are redeyes that take off after midnight. Hawaiian has long wanted a second slot to leverage its fixed costs at Haneda. Because Haneda mostly handles flights within Japan, and most international flights take off from Narita, Japanese travelers have often found themselves effectively losing a day of vacation flying to Haneda and then spending up to two hours getting from that airport to the other.

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