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American, Delta and United push to finalise new Haneda flights

American Airlines has joined Delta Air Lines and United Airlines in pushing US regulators to finalise their tentative awards of 12 new flights to Tokyo Haneda.

American and United, in separate filings with the US Department of Transportation today, ask the regulator to dismiss objections by Hawaiian Airlines and finalise the allocation of the new frequencies. Delta, in comments to the DOT in May, supported the tentative awards.

With support from American, Delta and United, the regulator is almost certain to confirm the allocation of the new Tokyo flights that it first announced in May

American will receive two flights for service to Haneda from Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles; Delta five flights for service from Atlanta, Detroit, Honolulu, Portland (Oregon) and Seattle; Hawaiian one flight for service from Honolulu; and United four flights for service from Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles, Newark and Washington Dulles.

Haneda is popular with travellers to and from Tokyo due to its proximity to the city centre compared to Tokyo Narita airport. Haneda flights are restricted to US carriers, even while other airports are liberalised under the US-Japan open-skies agreement.

Hawaiian filed an objection to the DOT's tentative awards in May, alleging a "bias against smaller air carriers". It claimed this bias was prevalent both at the regulator, as well as major airports around the country including Los Angeles, and asked that one of the two flights awarded to Los Angeles be shifted to its Honolulu hub.

United is the largest US carrier between Japan and the USA with a 21.6% share of total passengers during the year ending in November 2018, the latest DOT data shows. Delta had a 14.4% share, American an 8.8% share and Hawaiian a 6.6% share.

American has an immunised joint venture with Japan Airlines (JAL), and United with All Nippon Airways (ANA). This gives them a, respective, 30.5% and 44.3% share of passengers during the year ending in November.

The new Haneda flights will allow US carriers to marginally grow Tokyo capacity. American plans to use its new Los Angeles frequency for a second daily flight, and United plans to use the Los Angeles and Newark frequencies to complement its existing flights to Narita.

Delta and Hawaiian have not said if they plan to replace or complement Narita flights with their new frequencies.

The DOT plans to finalise the flight allocations in time for US carriers to apply for Haneda slots for the summer of 2020 – when the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are scheduled – that are due in October.

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