Tokyo Haneda Airport Slots
Tokyo Haneda Airport Slots

Slot Wars: US Airlines Begin Fight For Tokyo Haneda

Tokyo’s Haneda (HND) airport is the best airport in Tokyo, mostly because it is a short 35 minute train ride from the city. Tokyo Narita (NRT) airport is located about 1 hour and 10 minutes away from the city. Brett Snyder over at the Cranky Flier puts this into pretty easy to understand perspective.

a map of a city
Map Via

Haneda (HND) and Narita (NRT) both offer a comparable amount of amenities to fliers but Narita (NRT) serves many more international destinations.

Why Don’t All Flights Go Through Haneda (HND)?

Tokyo Haneda (HND) is slot restricted. Up until 2010 the airport didn’t have an international terminal. When the airport did finally open an international terminal, a fourth runway was opened as well. This allowed for long-haul flights to arrive during night-time only, under government restriction. Haneda (HND) opened up to long-haul service during the daytime in March 2014. Haneda (HND) currently has nonstop service to 25 cities in 17 countries. The Japanese government changed its tune on Haneda (HND), they now claim the airport is currently encouraged for the use of for premium business routes and Narita (NRT) for leisure routes and low-cost carriers.

Why are there new slots?

As a part of the 2020 Olympics, Japan has committed to opening up more slots at Haneda Airport, including some coveted daytime slots. The Japan Times is reporting that US airlines should receive at least 12 slots into Haneda (HND) and the Japanese carriers will also receive 12 slots of a total of 50 new slots.

a building with lights on the outside
Image via Wikipedia Commons – Kentaro Iemoto

Slot Awarding Procedure and Time frame

With the new slots all US Airlines have to follow the schedule, set by the DOT, below in order to be considered for any of the 12 slots:

Petitions for Reconsideration February 14, 2019
Answers to Petitions February 19, 2019
Applications February 21, 2019
Answers February 28,2019
Replies March 7, 2019


With today being February 21, 2019 we are seeing all the new applications, which is exciting! With all these new slots airlines wont be able to start service until March 29, 2020 which is what Japan considers to be the start of their summer flying season.

What route is each airline applying for?

American Airlines

American only applied for 3 routes for 4 flights total from Dallas (DFW) (2x daily) , Los Angeles (LAX), and the surprise Las Vegas (LAS)

a map of the united states with red lines

Delta Air Lines

Delta has applied for service from 5 cities for 6 flights, Detroit (DTW), Seattle (SEA), Atlanta (ATL),  Portland (PDX), Honolulu (HNL) (2x daily)

a map of the united states

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian is trying to beat out competition with frequency by only applying for 1 route, from Honolulu but they want to fly it up to 3x daily.

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United Airlines

United wants to fly to the most destinations as they applied for 6 new routes. They want to fly from Los Angeles (LAX), New York – Newark (EWR), Washington Dulles (IAD), Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH), and Guam (GUM)

a map of the united states

Who actually will get the slots and what slots will they get?

It’s really tough to say. With 19 applications and only 12 slots there will be some winners and losers. The US Department of Transportation does award these slots and they take many factors into consideration.  I think that Delta will probably be the biggest winner, getting 4 of the 6 slots they asked for.  This is because they have no partner across the pacific to Japan like American Airlines or United have. It will also allow them to completely pull out of Narita (NRT). I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hawaiian awarded all 3 slots as well, leaving just 5 slots to split between American Airlines and United. In that case I would see American Airlines come out with 3 of 4 slots and United with just 2 of 6 requested, as their partner ANA flies every single route that they have proposed except for Guam. All of this is pure speculation but doesn’t seem out of the question.

Who do you think will win the slot wars?

Feature Image Via Wikipedia Commons – Alex Len