Just before New Year it was announced by CNA that Singapore Airlines (SIA) has been granted fifth-freedom rights to operate from Tokyo to New York.

As readers will have seen in our feature on fifth-freedom, both obtaining and retaining such traffic rights is highly political.

Aviation: Taking the fifth

The news was confirmed by Kazuyoshi Akaba, Japan’s minister for Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

At this stage it is not known when, or indeed if, the route will start. It is also not known which airport SIA would use in both Tokyo and New York.

Much would depend on aircraft type and schedules. The A380 has the range to operate Tokyo-New York non-stop.

But, judging by the Minister’s comments, it’s hoped SIA would code-share with Japan’s ANA which is also a Star Alliance member.

Both SIA and ANA are renowned for fine service. Both would make excellent code-share partners.

Fifth-freedom rights out of Japan are valuable. For a long time SIA has held such rights for Tokyo Narita-Los Angeles.

However the question must concern the future of SIA’s fifth-freedom route (from Singapore) linking Frankfurt with New York JFK for which the carrier deploys an A380.

So will SIA continue to operate Singapore-New York via Europe or will it now opt for Singapore-New York via Tokyo ?

SIA already operates non-stop flights Singapore-New York and, because the airline has acquired a dedicated fleet of A350s and this route is aimed at the corporate market, these would be expected to continue.

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ANA already operates non-stop Tokyo (Haneda and Narita) to New York JFK using B777-300ER aircraft. Again it is not known whether or not a code-shared flight (perhaps operated by SIA’s A380) would replace one of the existing ANA services.

Although ANA has a few A380s these are currently utilised on its Honolulu route from Tokyo (Narita) which, judging by the special livery, are aimed at the leisure market.

Business Traveller will update this piece in line with developments.