Delta Air Lines Inc. is once again vying for new service into Tokyo’s Haneda Airport from key U.S. hubs including Atlanta, arguing that the more centrally located hub will be beneficial for business travelers and spur more U.S.-Japan trade and tourism.
Most Delta flights land in Narita Airport, which lies 36 miles outside the city center and requires a relatively long train ride or drive into downtown Tokyo.
Delta has applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for the service from four U.S. hubs: Seattle, Portland, Atlanta and Detroit — and it also seeks to up its frequencies from Honolulu to Haneda to twice daily.
Japan opened up 12 new slots in to grow capacity in advance of the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo.
The U.S. and Japan agreed in 2016 to an amendment to their open-skies pact that allowed Japan to open up slots to Haneda gradually. Delta had argued for freer competition into an airport that had largely been cut off to foreign flights for nearly 30 years.
Delta argues that its existing services from Minneapolis and Honolulu have shown the benefits the Haneda route can provide travelers. It also said its proposed services would provide much-needed competition to U.S. airlines that maintain alliances with Japan Air Lines and All Nippon Airways.
The 13-hour Atlanta flight would be flown using the Boeing 777-200ER, which features the Delta One Suites business class product, a premium-economy product called Delta Premium Select, as well as the widest economy seats in the carrier’s international fleet.
The routes would begin during Japan’s “summer flying season” in March 2020 if they receive government approval. That’s in advance of the Olympics.
American, United and Hawaiian airlines are also vying for some of the slots, bringing the number of proposed new routes or frequencies on the 12 slots to 19, meaning one or more of the carriers could lose out.
The announcement came during the same week the Japanese Consulate General in Atlanta held an event celebrating the 45th anniversary of setting up its office.