Delta Air Lines Inc. wants U.S. regulators to seize American Airlines Group Inc.’s new route from Los Angeles to Tokyo’s close-in Haneda Airport – but wait – American Airlines doesn’t have a flight from LA to Tokyo Haneda! That’s right!
Earlier this year American Airlines fought to gain a coveted slot between the US an Japan’s Tokyo Haneda airport which is much closer to the city center than the heavily used Narita International Airport – about 30 minutes outside the city. American cited that Delta who had the slot, was not fully using it to its full potentional, only operating flight seasonally and then when using it not operating the flights daily. Delta finally decided that if American wanted it that bad, they would return it to the Department of Transportation – which they did, and American Airlines was awarded the slot in June.
It’s now October, Delta has given up the slot, but American Airlines isn’t doing anything with it. So, Delta is rightfully a little but upset, as they could still be operating the flight a few days a week, are sitting watching nothing happen with the slot they gave up. Normally, when an airline announces a new service they do it 6 months to a year out so they can build traffic for the new service ensuring that they will have enough passengers to make it profitable. However, the agreement for the awarding of the slot to American was that they start service within 60 days. That hasn’t happened; they haven’t even filed a schedule or offered ticket sales for the new flight.
This has caused a bit of an uproar at Delta who petitioned the U. S. Transportation department asking what is going on. American plans to respond to the U.S. Transportation Department regarding Delta’s claim, spokesman Matt Miller said Friday in an interview.
“We’re still working through the process to obtain slots” from the Japanese government that would allow American to fly the route, Miller said.
The government had allowed Delta to retain the Seattle to Japan route in March, but only on the condition that it agreed to fly every single day, a condition the airline later said it found to be as “draconian.” Delta finally relinquished the Seattle-Haneda route after then summer saying daily flights were just not viable. American said it would use the slot after winning approval to fly from Los Angeles to Haneda.
Delta is now alleging that American violated the government’s terms for the approval of the slot, asking the government take back the landing rights at Haneda. Delta currently operates from LA to both Tokyo airports Haneda and Narita which means more competition in an already oversaturated market with 5 other airlines on the LA-Tokyo route multiple times a day.
“Customer demand is already being met on LAX-HND with two daily flights by other carriers,” spokeswoman Kate Modolo said, using the airports’ three-letter codes. “The slots should be returned immediately.”
The fight for the slots is just heating up, being that American is not using them it may mean that they will have to return the slots as they have not met the agreement they made with the U.S. government. If that becomes the case then it would be open to all airlines to apply again, and each will have to reapply for use of the slot. Hawaiian Airlines had previously stated their interest in operating from Maui to Haneda, too. It’s unknown if any other airlines hold any interest in operating the route.