Virgin Australia, Qantas face off to launch flights to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport

20 Sep 2019 by Seher Asaf

Rival Australian airlines Virgin Australia and Qantas are competing for slots at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

Earlier this year, the Australian and Japanese governments agreed to allocate two slots for services between the two countries, after the Japanese government said it would open 50 additional daily slot pairings at Tokyo-Haneda airport, which will be split equally between Japanese carriers and foreign carriers.

Virgin Australia said it would apply for one of the available Australian airline slots into Haneda. The Australian carrier will compete with Qantas, which has already filed an application with Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC) for both of the Haneda slots, which will be available next year in March.

Slots at Haneda Airport are highly desired among airlines flying into Tokyo because it is much closer to the centre of Tokyo than its counterpart, Narita Airport, making it more convenient for most travellers.

Qantas said it would use the slots to add a second daily Sydney-Haneda flight and it would move its flights between Melbourne and Narita to Haneda. The airline specified in its application with the IASC that it would fly an A330 on its proposed Melbourne-Haneda route, and an A330 or a B789 on its Sydney-Haneda route. Virgin Australia did not specify from which Australian city it proposes to fly to Haneda.

Virgin Australia said in a press release that it wants to focus on routes that are commercially profitable.

“Japan is a very strong and important market for both inbound and outbound travel to Australia, with travel volumes growing by almost 50 per cent since 2015 . Haneda Airport in particular is a popular entry point into Japan because of its connivence and close proximity to Tokyo City,” said the airline.

The carrier added: “Virgin Australia’s intended application for slots at Haneda Airport is extremely important to ensure there is competition in this market to bring choice and value for consumers, with lower airfares and more travel options to Japan.”

The new Tokyo flights are scheduled to begin in March 2020. The IASC will announce its final decision on October 31, 2019.

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