Japan's transport ministry has allocated 48 of the 57 valuable new slots to be made available over the next two years at Tokyo's congested domestic hub Haneda Airport ahead of the opening of a third runway in July.

As expected, new carriers Skymark Airlines and Hokkaido International Airlines - which operates as Air Do - have each been granted three new slots to allow for an increase in services to major domestic cities.

Incumbent carriers All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) have each been awarded 13 slots, while third incumbent Japan Air System (JAS) has been awarded 14.

Of the 15 slots set aside for new carriers, nine remain to be awarded. These will be made available to existing carriers on a temporary basis until new operators express interest.

Separately, an additional two slots have been allocated for use on new domestic routes to the cities of Monbetsu and Noto, although it has not been decided which airlines will operate the services.

Haneda's third runway will initially see 31 new slots being made available, with an additional 26 coming into play two years later.

ANA, JAL and JAS can each use five of their new slots from July this year. Skymark and Air Do will each be able to use the three that they have been allocated from this date as well. The remaining slots given to the majors are available for use from 2002.

The allocation is the first in which a "rating system" has been applied, with carriers awarded slots depending on the number of points received for service quality and other areas of comparison. Eleven factors of comparison are applied for the three incumbent carriers (ANA, JAL and JAS), although the rating system does not apply to new airlines Skymark and Air Do, which started operating in 1998.

Source: Airline Business