Japan allocates 37 domestic slots at Haneda

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Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has awarded 36 of 37 daily domestic slots that will become available when Haneda Airport's fourth runway opens.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) will get 11.5 slots daily and Japan Airlines (JAL) 7.5, says an MLIT official. The uneven numbers denote an aircraft that departs the airport one day, but returns the next.

Among other carriers, Star Flyer received five slots, with four slots each going to SkynetAsia Airways, Air Do, and Skymark Airlines. The 37th slot has yet to be allocated. It will go to a carrier that operates a service with fewer than 100 seats.

Though the official says the ministry has not confirmed that the fourth runway will open in October 2010, ministry sources have previously given this as the timeframe for its opening.

Haneda is due to become an international airport from October 2010, and is working toward becoming a 24-hr international hub. It will have night-time scheduled flights to at least 10 countries from October 2010, and the government will also start allocating slots for daytime flights to and from the USA and Europe, said an MLIT official in December 2009.

Agreements have been signed for night-time flights to Germany, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, adds the official.

The new domestic flights, coupled with international traffic, will go a long way toward making Haneda Japan's air hub - in October 2010 Japanese transport minister Seiji Maehara reportedly said that Japan has no hub airport.

"With Narita serving international flight and Haneda domestic, South Korea's Incheon airport has become the hub airport for Japan," said Maehara.