Sorry, United. American Airlines Wins Coveted Tokyo Haneda Airport Slot

by Anthony Losanno
American Tails

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American Airlines has emerged victorious in the battle for coveted takeoff and landing slots at Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND). This slot became available when Delta Air Lines pulled the plug on its service from Portland International Airport (PDX).

Once upon a time, Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT) was a hub for both Northwest Airlines and Pan Am Pacific. These were acquired by Delta Air Lines and United Airlines and Narita lost hub status in 2020 and 2011, respectively. In the past few years, all of the major US carriers have been making plays for space at Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND). It’s closer to the city and therefore more attractive to travelers. These are also closely controlled by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and not easy to obtain.

AA Japan

Delta Air Lines was awarded the most slots of any US carrier because it does not have an alliance partner like United has with ANA and American enjoys with Japan Airlines. When securing slots at the airport, airlines need to submit the routes they want to fly for approval. Delta got space for its hubs as well as a Portland International Airport (PDX) route. This didn’t work out for Delta and it returned its slot.

With space open, both United Airlines and American Airlines made a play for it. United wanted to connect Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and American wanted to add New York John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to the mix. The Department of Transportation (DOT) decided that the slot would be better for the public interest if American added its flight.

Today, American announced this news and it will be the only US carrier to connect the two airports: New York John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) nonstop. Flight frequency has not yet been released, but it will be served with a Boeing 777-200ER. It features 37 Business Class, 24 Premium Economy, and 212 Economy Class seats. It will join American’s nonstop flights from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

American’s CEO, Robert Isom, said:

American looks forward to beginning nonstop service to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport from JFK. We are grateful to the DOT and thankful to our partner Japan Airlines for supporting our application. Together, we are well-positioned to offer customers a comprehensive network between two of the most robust economies in the world. This new service will add nearly 200,000 additional round-trip seats annually between the U.S. and Japan, offering customers more ways to conduct business in the global marketplace or connect with family and friends.”

This is a win that American needed. After its Northeast Alliance with JetBlue was disbanded (more here) and it retreated in Austin (more here), it’s about time the Dallas-based carrier caught a win.

Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) connects nonstop to the US through these airports:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) (Delta Air Lines)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) (United Airlines)
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) (American Airlines)
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) (Delta Airlines)
  • Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) (Delta Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) (American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines)
  • Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) (Delta Air Lines)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) (United Airlines)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) (United Airlines)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) (Delta Air Lines)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) (United Airlines)

Anthony’s Take: Delta played games with its Portland slot long before it gave it up. The carrier was charging exorbitant fares for flights (even in Economy) and basically held on to try to see what could be done. American will likely find success with this new flight.

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2 comments

Sean January 27, 2024 - 8:49 am

Where do you get your information from? DL did not close the Narita hub in 2010. In fact by 2012 they served more cities (22) than NW did in 2008 (19). The hub and crew base didn’t officially close until 2020.

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Frankfurt Airport Lufthansa
Anthony Losanno January 27, 2024 - 9:01 am

That was a typo that should have read 2020. Good catch. Thanks!

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