Carriers jostle for underperforming Delta Haneda slot

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Published: August 10, 2012

Delta Air Lines’ (DL) daily Detroit (DTW)-Tokyo Haneda (HND) service “has not performed as expected,” and the carrier has submitted a request to the US Dept. of Transportation (DOT) to transfer its DTW-HND slot pair to Seattle (SEA)-HND. United Airlines (UA) and Hawaiian Airlines (HA) have submitted filings opposing the motion.

“Seattle was and remains Delta’s first choice gateway for mainland US-Haneda service,” members of the Washington Congressional Delegation wrote in a letter to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood supporting the SEA-HND bid. “When Delta originally applied in 2010 for new rights to operate between the US and Haneda, they indicated Seattle as their priority gateway for service.” The move is also supported by the carrier’s pilot union, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

DOT in July 2010 awarded four routes to HND to American Airlines (AA) from New York JFK; to DL from Los Angeles and DTW; and to HA from Honolulu ( ATW Daily News, July 7, 2010 ). Other applicants for the HND slots were Continental Airlines (CO), Continental Micronesia and UA.

UA said in light of the announcement that DL “failed to deliver on the commitments in its Haneda service proposal,” it requests to be allocated one daily pair of HND combination slots so it can begin service from San Francisco. “United is ready, willing and able to commence daily nonstop San Francisco-Haneda service within 90 days of the Department’s allocation,” it said in a DOT filing. “United is the only U.S. combination carrier serving Japan and not permitted to operate into Haneda with its own metal.”

AA in a filing said it has no objection to DL’s request, “provided that all carriers holding Haneda slots are granted equivalent relief.” The DOT in 2004 employed this solution regarding a DL request to remove city-pair restrictions on US-Brazil service, at a time when AA, CO, DL and UA were the only US carriers permitted to fly to Brazil. At the time of granting the request in 2004, DOT said, “We remind the carriers that frequencies to serve Brazil are valuable route rights that have been obtained in exchange for rights for Brazilian carrier services to the United States, and that it is not our policy to have such valuable rights wasted.”

Following the AA statement on how it believes the HND slot request should be handled, HA asked DOT to deny both DL’s and AA’s request. “From the onset of this route selection proceeding, Hawaiian has asked for a second frequency,” it said in filing. “Against this backdrop Hawaiian finds Delta’s request to move its Detroit service to Seattle without merit and completely counter to the carefully crafted distribution of frequencies established by DOT in the Order.” It requested the DOT reallocate the DL frequency and said, “should a new selection proceeding be initiated, Hawaiian will actively participate to win that second frequency.”

DL will operate the HND Airbus A330 service through the end of August.

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