American Airlines Quits Haneda-JFK, United Moves in to Expand Network

American Airlines Quits Haneda-JFK, United Moves in to Expand Network

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American Airlines, Inc. (AA) announced on October 16 that it will operate its final flight providing a direct connection between Tokyo's Haneda Airport and New York's JFK Airport on December 1, when it will depart from Haneda. With landing slots for flights between Haneda and the U.S. limited, United Airlines, Inc. (UA) applied for new operating rights on the 17th to take American's place.

American Airlines' Haneda-JFK route was one of four allotted to U.S. carriers under the terms of a civil aviation pact between Japan and the U.S. Since first flying the route in February 2011, American Airlines had temporarily shut it down due to sluggish demand as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, but reopened it in June 2012. Since then it has been American's only Japan-New York route operated solely by the carrier. Now the company has decided to give it up because of unprofitability due to its inconvenience, such as arrivals and departures at Haneda occurring in the late night and early morning hours and the associated difficulty travelers have making connections. American will continue to jointly operate a route with Japan Air Lines Co., Ltd. (JAL) between Narita Airport outside Tokyo and JFK.

The other routes between Haneda and the U.S. currently flown by American carriers are Seattle and Los Angeles by Delta Air Lines, Inc. (DL) and Honolulu by Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. (HA). Delta did have a route to Detroit approved by the Japanese authorities, but it later switched that to Seattle. And when it did, United and other U.S. carriers tried to add landing slots for their own flights and obtain operating rights. The same thing is likely to happen again, as United, the first airline to jump at the opportunity of expanding its route network, has already applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation to fly between Haneda and its hub in San Francisco. The new airline and route will be determined through deliberations by civil aviation authorities.

American Airlines applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011 under a U.S. federal law that is equivalent to Japan's Civil Rehabilitation Act. Now the carrier is carrying out a reconstruction plan that includes a possible merger with U.S. Airways.

Haneda Airport plans to expand daytime landing slots for international routes beginning in March 2014. These slots will be allotted to airlines that include carriers flying between Japan and the U.S.