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British Carrier Virgin Atlantic Shifting Narita Route to Haneda in 2014 - Daytime Landing Slot

British Carrier Virgin Atlantic Shifting Narita Route to Haneda in 2014 - Daytime Landing Slot

Virgin Atlantic's Airbus A340A

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In September, British carrier Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. (VS) announced that it will shift its daily Tokyo-London route from Narita Airport to Haneda Airport from spring 2014 onward.

Calling the Tokyo route an "important market," Virgin's plan is to expand demand and encourage travelers to fly the long-haul route. This coincides with an "open skies" accord to liberalize air transport agreed to by Japan and the U.K. on January 24, which will increase the number of landing slots at Haneda Airport for flights between the two countries.

When Haneda expands its international terminal and raises the number of yearly international landing slots from 30,000 to 60,000 in spring 2014, the accord will allow Japanese and British airlines to land and takeoff planes for four flights (two for each country) during the daytime hours (6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.). Virgin Atlantic plans to use these new daytime slots to operate its Haneda flights. A spokesperson from the carrier said Virgin Atlantic believes flying to Haneda will benefit both Japanese and British customers, and that other improvements will come from Haneda's easy access to downtown Tokyo and convenient connections to 200 domestic routes in Japan.

The Narita route will meanwhile remain in place due to Virgin Atlantic's codeshare agreement with All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (ANA).

At present, British Airways (BA) is the only British carrier to serve Haneda, operating five late night/early morning flights a week.

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