Japan's major existing airlines and the country's planned start-up carriers have all signalled their dissatisfaction with the transport ministry's allocation of 40 new slots at Tokyo's overcrowded Haneda Airport.

The decision has done little to satisfy competing demands from Japan's three main carriers, and has dealt a major blow to the growing number of new domestic start-up airlines hoping to operate from Haneda. Of the new slots created by the opening of a second reconstructed runway, 20 places will be available from 1 July and 20 from 1 April, 1998.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) and its domestic subsidiary, Air Nippon (ANK), appear to have come out the worst, having asked for 35 slots but receiving only nine. Furthermore, the ministry has pre-assigned six of the slots to existing routes, leaving only two for ANA's new route to Saga and one for ANK's new service to Odatenoshiro.

"It's an unbelievably disappointing decision and we're extremely dissatisfied," says ANA.

Japan Airlines (JAL) and its domestic subsidiary, Japan TransOcean Air, fared slightly better, securing 12 out of the 26 slots for which it applied. The airline, however, had been seeking to improve on its existing 21.5% share of slots at Haneda. "JAL is disappointed-our request was aimed at achieving a more equal footing," says the airline.

Japan Air System similarly managed to secure only 13 out of the 33 slots which it had sought. The major disappointment, however, has been reserved for Japan's four planned start-up carriers, with a total of only six slots being set aside. The ministry has not yet decided which carriers will receive the slots, but has set a maximum of three for any one company.

Skymark Airways, which had asked for nine slots, has already warned that it will be "-difficult with only three slots to run a discount airline". Hokkaido International Airlines is similarly warning that it needs at least six slots to make a profit.

No more slots are due to be made available at Haneda before 2000 and the completion of a third runway.

Source: Flight International