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Five US carriers seek Haneda slots

American, Continental, Delta, United and Hawaiian Airlines have all applied for four available slots for US carriers at Tokyo's Haneda airport.

The availability of slots at close-in Haneda resulted from the conclusion of an open skies pact reached between Japan and the USA in December 2009. Haneda is roughly 20km (11 miles) from Tokyo's city centre while Narita is 65km away. Haneda is primarily limited to domestic traffic, but a new runway opening later this year will allow for expansion of long-haul international flights.

"We have long wanted to fly from New York and Los Angeles to Haneda, the closest airport to downtown Tokyo," says Will Ris, American's SVP of Government Affairs.

Oneworld partner American is seeking slots to operate flights from New York's John F Kennedy International airport and Los Angeles International airport using 247-seat Boeing 777s configured with 16 first class, 37 business and 194 economy seats.

Continental and its wholly-owned subsidiary Continental Micronesia are seeking slots to offer flights from Newark and Guam, respectively. Continental would operate Boeing 777s from Newark to Haneda while Continental Micronesia would place a Boeing 767-400 on its flights to Tokyo.

Continental's fellow Star Alliance partner United is seeking one of the slots to offer service from its San Francisco hub using Boeing 777s configured in a three-class configuration. The carrier also highlights the 777 supplies ample capacity for cargo from its hub in San Francisco to Haneda.

United also states that passengers have connecting opportunities with its codeshare partner and fellow Star Alliance member All Nippon Airways (ANA) at Haneda to several points in Japan and Asia. United, ANA and Continental Airlines and Oneworld members American Airlines and Japan Airlines (JAL) are seeking anti-trust approval from US regulators to establish transpacific joint ventures as a result of the open skies agreement. The firming up of open skies between the USA and Japan is contingent on ANA and JAL receiving anti-trust approval with their respective US partners.

Delta, who ultimately failed to convice JAL to shift from Oneworld its SkyTeam alliance, is seeking slots to offer flights from Haneda to Seattle, Detroit, Los Angeles and Honolulu. On its proposed flights to Haneda from Detroit, Los Angeles and Honolulu Delta would operate Boeing 747-400s, and fly Airbus A330-300s from Seattle.

"Enabling Delta to enter Haneda is critical to advancing airline competition in Tokyo, particularly considering the strong presence that the Star and Oneworld alliance carriers already enjoy at this important and tightly controlled airport," says Glen Hauenstein, Delta's EVP network and revenue management. Through its merger with Northwest Airlines, Delta has a strong presence at Narita.

Hawaiian, meanwhile, is requesting two of the four slots to support two daily nonstop flights from Honolulu to Haneda using Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. Hawaiian tells regulators as the first of its Airbus A330s come online later this year, 767s will be free for use on the proposed flights to Haneda.

But the carrier anticipates growing the service to support flights operated by its larger A330s.

Hawaiian tells US regulators the proposed Honolulu-Haneda flights are the next logical step for establishing itself as a major carrier in the Pacific. In addition to offering mainline service to the USA, Hawaiian also offers flights from Honolulu to Australia, Tahiti, the Philippines and American Samoa.

Most of the carriers anticipate starting flights to Haneda in late 2010.

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