US Airlines Battle Over Newly Released Landing Slots At Tokyo Haneda Airport

Edit: This article has been updated and a misspelling corrected for one of the flights.

In the lead up to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the local government has opened up international landing slots at Tokyo Haneda Airport.

This has caused a scramble from US carriers, as they compete to secure as many of these new slots as possible.

What are the details?

First, we need to discuss the difference between the two airports in Tokyo, Haneda (HND) and Narita (NRT).

Tokyo airports
The required time to travel from each airport. Notice that Narita is over an hour away. Source: Tokyo Airports

Narita has always been the main international airport of Tokyo, and Haneda intending to be domestic. However, Haneda actually only got an international terminal in 2010, and allowed more than just night arrivals/departures in 2014. The government has now opened up more daytime slots and decided, as the airport is closer to the city, it should be more focused on premium travelers.

There will be a total of 50 new slots up for grabs, 12 of which will be released for US carriers (Another 12 for Japanese carriers and the remaining 26 for various other nations).

According to Sam Chui, US airlines who wish to have the new slots will need to follow a very strict Japanese style of application:

  1. Petitions for Reconsideration February 14, 2019
  2. Answers to Petitions February 19, 2019
  3. Applications February 21, 2019
  4. Answers February 28, 2019
  5. Replies March 7, 2019

As it is already February 22, it is like the US airline have already placed their applications.

Who applied for the landing slots?

Only American Airlines, United, Delta, and Hawaiian have applied for these slots. Each airline has presented a variety of different routes that would work well and bring them plenty of business. There is, however, a total of 19 routes on offer and only 12 available slots thus at least one or two airlines will walk away disappointed.

Here are the routes that each airline is proposing:

Hawaiian – 3 slots

The Hawaiian proposal, three times a day. Source: Great Circle Mapper

Hawaiian has only asked for one route, Honolulu to Haneda, but up to three times a day. Hawaii is very popular for the Japanese and it is very likely that at least one will be granted.

United – 6 slots

United proposed routes. Source: Great Circle Mapper

United would like to operate six different flights. Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Huston, Washington, and Guam.

Delta – 6 slots

Delta’s proposal. Source: Great Circle Mapper

Delta has also asked for six slots, but their plan is a combination of Hawaiian’s and United. They want to fly to Hawaii twice a day, Portland, Seattle, Detroit, and Atlanta.

Correction: Not Dallas, but Detroit!

American – 4 slots

American Airlines proposed routes. Source: Great Circle Mapper

American Airlines wants to fly from Tokyo to Los Angeles, Dallas (twice a day) and to Las Vegas. This is quite a treat as it would be the first direct flight to the desert entertainment city.

Whichever routes that are successful will be allowed to start operations in March 2022.

Which routes do you want to see successful?


  1. It will be interesting to see how many slots they give from HNL to Hawaiian and Delta. Increasing capacity this much would really screw ANA, who just made the rather strange investment of 3 A380s for the HNL-NRT route. I have a feeling that the Japanese will look out for their own, and only allow at most one new slot for HND-HNL, my guess would be it goes to Hawaiian.

    1. HND is one of the airport where slots are very limited !
      Skymark who ordered the A380 and whose order was being assembled. Airbus claimed a 710 million USD cancellation fee.
      A deal with skymarks creditors was made. Basically, buying the slots from Skymark for HND airport would only be possible for an airline buying the A380.
      ANA not willing to give opportunities to American airlines to get additional slots had no real choice but to take those aircrafts.
      However, Japanese are quite nationalist, so when it comes to choose between a Japanese airline or an American one, it is likely that they will be more interested in Japanese ones.
      Plus, the A380 is the most comfortable airliner. For a very busy route, the A380 flying from or to a very busy airport definitely makes sense.

  2. If these are new slots for the “2020 Olympics in Tokyo,” why will successful ones “start operations in March 2022” ?

    Also, in this sentence (“As it is already February 22, it is like the US airline have already placed their applications.) “like” should be “likely.”

  3. Shockingly bad reporting — your typo generated “TDW” for Delta, but it’s actually “DTW”, aka Detroit. And the airlines would be able to begin flying as soon as 2020, not 2022 as you reported.

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