American Airlines, Delta and United vie for new Tokyo Haneda routes

22 Feb 2019 by Craig Bright
Tokyo Cityscape

The US’s three major carriers, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United, have begun battling it out to try and secure new routings to Japan.

The three airlines announced applications to the US Department of Transportation (DoT) for a multitude of new routes between Tokyo Haneda (HND) and a medley of US cities.

The applications follow a recent agreement signed by Japan and the US to expand access at Haneda Airport with 12 daytime slot pairs between the two countries up for grabs by US carriers. Once awarded, services are planned to launch in the summer of 2020, coinciding with the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Here is what each of the carriers is proposing:

Premium Economy Cabin on new American Airlines 787

American Airlines

American Airlines’ application includes additional services to Haneda from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX) and Las Vegas (LAS). American operates one daily LAX-HND service, which began in 2016, and hopes to operate two daily services from DFW.

A LAS-HND connection, meanwhile, would provide a permanent flight between Las Vegas and Tokyo, following from its special 10-day Las Vegas-Tokyo Narita service that ran from January 4-14 for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 last month.

Below is the proposed outbound schedule for the new services.

From To Departs Arrives
Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Tokyo (HND) 1235 1555+1
Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Tokyo (HND) 1500 1830+1
Las Vegas (LAS) Tokyo (HND) 1330 1725+1
Los Angeles (LAX) Tokyo (HND) 1240 0445+1

American would operate two of the routes, LAS-HND and LAX-HND, with its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, while the DFW service would be flown using its B777-200.

Both of these aircraft offer lie-flat seating in the business class cabin, along with a premium economy cabin, Main Cabin Extra (additional legroom economy) and Main Cabin (economy).

Speaking about the proposal, American Airlines president, Robert Isom, said: “Tokyo is an important hub for our Pacific Joint Business with Japan Airlines. Enhanced service at Haneda would give our customers better access to downtown Tokyo and open up Japan Airlines’ domestic network with flights to destinations like Osaka, Sapporo and Fukuoka.”

Delta One Suite

Delta Air Lines

Delta, meanwhile, has applied for routes connecting HND with Seattle (SEA), Detroit (DTW), Atlanta (ATL), and Portland (PDX) – all of which are unserved by US carriers at the moment – along with a twice-daily Tokyo Haneda-Honolulu service.

Delta already flies to Haneda from Minneapolis/St Paul (MSP) and Los Angeles.

Of note for business travellers is the aircraft Delta plans to use on some of these routes, which would give passengers in the business class cabin access to the carrier’s new fully flat, enclosed Delta One Suites.

The SEA-HND route would be served by the airline’s newest international widebody, the Airbus A330-900neo, which offers Delta One Suites (business class), Delta Premium Select (premium economy), Delta Comfort+ (extra legroom economy) and Main Cabin (economy) seating.

The DTW-HND route, meanwhile, will be operated by the A350-900, which was the debut aircraft for the Delta One Suite on the airline’s Detroit-Tokyo Narita route back in November 2017. This aircraft similarly offers a Delta Premium Select cabin.

Two of the routes will see aircraft that are being retrofitted with the Delta One Suites and Delta Premium Select seats, notably the Boeing 777-200ER (ATL-HND) and the B767-300ER (HNL-HND).

Only the PDX-HND route will offer the airline’s older, lie-flat Delta One business class offering, the service being operated by the A330-200.

United Premium Plus seats on the carrier's B787-10

United Airlines

United is proposing the most number of new routes of all three carriers, a total of six. These would include daily non-stop flights between HND and New York Newark Liberty Airport (EWR), Chicago (ORD), Washington (IAD), Los Angeles (LAX), Houston (IAH) and Guam (GUM).

These routes represent “approximately two thirds of US-Tokyo demand”, according to the airline.

As part of its plan, United would continue to operate its existing daily flights between EWR, LAX and GUM Tokyo’s Narita Airport, but would shift its daily ORD, IAD and IAH services from Narita to Haneda.

United has yet to announce a schedule for the routes, as well as the aircraft that will operate them.

Speaking about the proposed services, United president Scott Kirby, said: “Our proposed flights to Tokyo Haneda will offer an unrivalled experience and maximise choice and convenience for our customers travelling between the United States and Tokyo for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and beyond.”

United is already planning to ramp up its connectivity to Asia-Pacific this year, having previously announced new services from San Francisco to Melbourne and New Delhi, while enhancing its existing Seoul and Auckland flights.

The decision

It’s not clear when the US DoT will decide which airlines will be awarded the routes they are applying for. The deadline for applications was Thursday, Reuters reports.

Compared with Narita Airport, Haneda is located closer to downtown Tokyo making it a preferable option for travellers and airlines alike.

Travelling to Tokyo and need some tips on the best ways to get between the two airports and downtown? Have a read of our Smart Traveller guide:

Smart traveller: how to get from Tokyo Narita/Haneda International airports

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