United Airlines have just confirmed their revamped services to Tokyo with the award to them of a series of flights. These awards, effective March 28th, 2020, follow on the heels of the Japan – U.S. agreement and with an eye to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
United Airlines and Tokyo-Haneda
This news is essentially an update and confirmation from a preliminary announcement in May of this year. United already flies non stop to and from Tokyo-Haneda, from San Francisco. Now it is adding the following slots to the mix, starting on March 20th 2020. These are:
- 1x daily Chicago O’Hare to Tokyo-Haneda flight using 777-200
- 1x daily Los Angeles to Tokyo-Haneda flight using 787-10
- 1x daily Newark to Tokyo-Haneda flight using 777-200
- 1x daily Washington Dulles to Tokyo-Haneda flight using 777-200
In addition to those slots, United also applied to the U.S. Department of Transport for some additional slots but was not awarded them:
- 1x daily Guam to Tokyo-Haneda flight using 777-200
- 1x daily Houston to Tokyo-Haneda flight using 777-200
One of the key reasons for the change of emphasis in its Tokyo services is that Tokyo-Haneda is much closer to Tokyo city that Tokyo Narita, at 8.2 miles as opposed to 49.4 miles. Moreover, United is not the only U.S. airline to concentrate more on flights to Tokyo-Haneda as Delta is doing much the same thing.
To accommodate these changes, United will no longer fly to Tokyo Narita from Chicago O’Hare and Washington Dulles. Subject to possible changes, the following table shows the services that United will be offering:
What about the competition?
These changes do not appear in isolation. In June 2019, Flight Global reported that American Airlines had joined Delta Air Lines and United Airlines in lobbying the U.S. Department of Transport for 12 new flights to Tokyo-Haneda. As they did so, they asked them to dismiss objections by Hawaiian Airlines and finalize the allocation of the new frequencies.
Flight Global commented that, with support from these three U.S. airlines, the regulator is more than likely confirm the allocation of the new Tokyo flights that it first announced in May.
There is a U.S. – Japan open-skies agreement in force that limits some flights at Tokyo-Haneda to Japanese and U.S. airlines. Hawaiian filed an objection to the DOT’s tentative awards in May saying that there was “bias against smaller air carriers”.
Flight Global confirms that,
“United is the largest U.S., carrier between Japan and the U.S.A., with a 21.6% share of total passengers during the year ending in November 2018, the latest DOT data shows. Delta had a 14.4% share, American an 8.8% share and Hawaiian a 6.6% share.”
One potential USP for United with three of the four of its new connections to Tokyo-Haneda is their ConnectionSaver system that is rolling out throughout their network.
Why the changes?
One Mile At A Time suggested in February that, from the 19 slots they had applied for, U.S. airlines would be getting 12 additional daytime landing slots at Tokyo-Haneda Airport. This was following talks between the U.S. and Japan, in time for the Olympics.
Whilst the airlines definitely have an eye to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of International Networks, has said that United has offered non-stop service between the US, and Japan for 40 years.
Their deeper rationale is for them to offer greater choice and connections to more than 65 connections in Asia.