Delta Wants Haneda Flexibility
- Delta last week called for the Department of Transportation to grant U.S. airlines limited flexibility in the gateways for their Tokyo Haneda slots. The proposal seeks a three-year trial where each U.S. airline with Haneda slot pairs — American, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, and United — would have flexibility to change the gateway for two of those pairs. Why? A “starkly different” demand environment, particularly for corporate travel, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Delta said passenger traffic was only at 49 percent of 2019 levels during the year ending in March; however, the airline’s argument includes the months before Japan eased inbound visitor restrictions in October, after which demand has surged (see Weekly Skies). American has already backed the proposal though DOT approval would likely require the support of all four airlines. Of the 18 Haneda slot pairs available for U.S. airlines Delta holds seven for flights from Atlanta, Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Seattle-Tacoma; United five pairs; American three pairs; and Hawaiian three pairs.
- Staying in Asia, the DOT is allowing Chinese airlines 12 weekly flights to the U.S., up from eight. The move keeps the number of flights allowed by both Chinese and U.S. airlines balanced until the governments can either agree to restore the pre-pandemic bilateral agreement that allowed for up to 50 daily flights in December 2019, or reach a new pact. Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, and Xiamen Airlines, in addition to their U.S. competitors, are currently flying between the countries.
- Route tidbits: Breeze Airways wants to fly the crowded Los Angeles-Los Cabos route weekly from November. If authority is granted by the DOT, Breeze would be the seventh U.S. carrier on the route. Flair Airlines will open a new three-aircraft base in Calgary in July with four new routes to Las Vegas, London, Ontario, Phoenix, and Puerto Vallarta opening through the fall.
- And on the partnership front, AirBaltic and Turkish Airlines launched a new codeshare on May 1. The pact allows the former to connect travelers onto Turkish Airlines flights from its new nonstop to Istanbul, and the latter to connect travelers onto AirBaltic’s flight to Riga. And Alaska Airlines and regional Kenmore Air are partnering on flights between Paine Field, Wash., and both Friday Harbor and Eastsound in Washington’s San Juan Islands. Alaska serves Paine Field north of Seattle with 14 daily flights to seven destinations.