Japan's Major Carriers Expand Networks as Haneda Grows

 - March 3, 2014, 4:30 PM
ANA plans to add U.S. slots when the expanded international terminal at Tokyo's Haneda Airport begins operating in March. (Photo: ANA)

Japan’s expansion of the international terminal at Haneda Airport in the Tokyo metropolitan area bolsters route expansion plans by its two major carriers, ANA and Japan Airlines (JAL). Of the two domestic carriers, ANA won twice as many international day-time slots Japan’s transport ministry awarded last year, giving it capacity for more planned flights to the U.S.

Tokyo International Air Terminal Corporation is expanding the international terminal building’s main hall at Haneda and building a new satellite facility with eight boarding gates and aircraft parking spaces, according to Airport News Japan. The airport, which is located eight miles south of central Tokyo, added a fourth runway and opened the new international terminal in 2010. With the latest expansion, Haneda’s annual international day-time flight slots will double from 30,000 to 60,000 starting in March.

In October, Japan’s transport ministry granted ANA 11 new international day-time slot pairs and JAL five in the slot allocation at Haneda, Tokyo’s main domestic airport and Japan’s busiest for passenger traffic. The ministry distributed 15 slots to foreign carriers, Bloomberg reported. The slot allocation doubles Haneda’s current day-time international capacity. “But the existing day-time international services are only for regional Asian services, so this expansion program will be the first time in three decades there will be long-haul day-time flights into Haneda,” according to market analysis firm CAPA Centre for Aviation.

During a recent interview at ANA’s offices in Tokyo, Kohei Tsuji, the airline’s director of network planning, said ANA will operate 34.7 percent of its international flights from Haneda once the airport opens the expanded international terminal, some of them shifted from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. In terms of available seat kilometers (ASKs), ANA’s international capacity will increase from 18.6 percent to 36.9 percent at Haneda, without adding U.S. destinations. The countries are still negotiating U.S. slots; depending on how many U.S. slots ANA receives, the ASKs will increase to nearly 50 percent, he said. Meanwhile, Narita, located some 35 miles outside of Tokyo, will remain important to ANA for international connecting flights, he added.

JAL protested the “inequitable allocation” of day-time international flight slots at Haneda and sent a “proposal for rectification” to Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau. “They replied that considering the size of impact on the competitive environment, they would carefully and restrainingly judge the launch of new routes by JAL…until Fiscal Year 2016,” airline president Yoshiharu Ueki told a press conference on January 22. “Our understanding is that our application for new routes using late night and early morning slots at Haneda Airport is not applicable to their so-called restraining judgment.”

Ueki said JAL plans to expand its international network using the late night and early morning slots at Haneda and increasing flight frequency to and from Narita.