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  • By Jeffrey Teruel

New routes leave out Guam

US DOT grants tentative approval to US big 3 airlines for new flights to Tokyo-Haneda

According to press statements released by Delta, American Airlines, and United Airlines, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has given tentative approvals for flights between the United States and Tokyo-Haneda Airport.

The announcement follows the agreement between the U.S. and Japanese governments to open up the airspace around Tokyo-Haneda airport, which has led to the opening up of additional flight slots. As part of the deal, the United States was allocated half of the available slots which has led to the bidding for new flights to the Tokyo area by United, Delta, American, and Hawaiian Airlines.

While the U.S. Department of Transportation has granted the tentative approval for the routes, all the airlines participating in the bidding process can submit responses prior to the final decision which is expected to come by the end of the summer. Once the airlines are granted final approval, the new flights could start by the summer of 2020 - just in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Atlanta-based Delta announced it was given approval for its flights from Tokyo-Haneda to Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Portland, and Honolulu. Delta currently operates flights from Haneda to Los Angeles and Minneapolis/St. Paul, and the airline will have all its proposed routes get the tentative go-ahead.

While Delta has a hub at Tokyo-Narita, the decision to bid for flights at Tokyo-Haneda would benefit travelers with the close proximity of Haneda to Tokyo compared to Narita where it operates flights from some of its U.S. hubs and to Singapore and Manila.

“This preliminary order demonstrates the DOT’s commitment to encouraging competition and providing more choice for customers traveling between the U.S. and Tokyo’s city center,” said Steve Sear, President – International and Executive Vice President - Global Sales. “This service will allow Delta to combine its superior service, product and operational reliability with the convenience of Tokyo-Haneda’s central location –

an important win for customers.”

Following Delta's announcement, United issued its own statement saying that its bid for flights from New York/Newark, Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles, and Los Angeles were granted temporary approval. The new routes leave out Houston and Guam, which were included in United's bid but were not included in this round of approvals.

"As the largest U.S. carrier to Asia, we are excited to see we were granted additional slots to Haneda to help more Americans travel between our nation and Japan's capital city, which will offer our customers an unparalleled experience while maximizing choice," said United Airlines President Scott Kirby. "We would like to thank the U.S. Department of Transportation for its work in reviewing our proposal and advocating for what is best for the American public and for our economy. We also recognize the efforts of the U.S. State Department's work with the DOT to enable additional service at Haneda."

At present, United operates a majority of its Tokyo area flights at Narita and operates a daily service between San Francisco and Haneda.

Dallas-based American Airlines – which bid for flights to Los Angeles, Dallas, and Las Vegas – secured the approval for its proposed flights from Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles. "We are encouraged by the DOT's tentative decision," said American Airlines president Robert Isom in a statement. "We understand the unique opportunity we've been granted with new Haneda service from our largest hub at DFW and additional service from LAX, and will deliver a world-class customer experience when flights begin next year."

The new flights will allow American to fly between Los Angeles and Haneda twice daily. It's Dallas-Fort Worth flights will connect American's main hub to the preferred airport for Tokyo-bound travelers.

The US DOT granted Honolulu-based Hawaiian Airlines an additional daily roundtrip flight between Haneda and Honolulu after proposing three daily trips. (Flights in Asia)

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