Delta’s CEO weighs in on Japan-US air service talks

Washington DC
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Delta is closely watching air service talks between the USA and Japan as its chief executive officer is championing full access to Tokyo Haneda airport.

Through its merger with Northwest Airlines that was finalised in October of 2008 Northwest's Tokyo Narita hub, which is roughly 35 miles outside the city, became a key Asian destination in the network of the merged carriers.

In his latest message to employees Anderson says Delta would "support a true open skies agreement, but only if we have full access to Haneda".

Anderson says he's concerned that the version of the open skies agreement proposed by the Japanese government "would only continue government regulation of the market".

Under that proposal Anderson explains US carriers would have access to only a few flights per day from Haneda at inconvenient times with no permission to serve other Asian markets.

But airlines that have hubs at Haneda could leverage their position to fill planes headed to the USA and "peel away" business travellers from US carriers on nonstop flights to the US due to the convenience of that airport, he argues.

Anderson reasons that creates difficulty for carriers largely confined to Narita to compete effectively.

He believes nonstop flights from Haneda to the US proposed by the Japanese government would "do real damage" to US carriers, and warns Delta could be forced to reduce flights to Japan.

Delta is "working with its allies in Congress to prevent this from happening", says Anderson.