United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL), the world’s largest carrier, stands to benefit after its Japanese partner, ANA Holdings Inc. (9202), received 11 additional takeoff and landing rights at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.
ANA, Japan’s biggest airline, was granted more of the international slot pairs by the government than Japan Airlines Co. (9201), which received five. The decision is a break from the past, when the carriers shared international slots equally.
The slots will bolster United and ANA’s presence at Haneda, which is favored by business travelers who will pay a premium to land near the middle of the city. ANA and United, which is seeking its first slot on its own at Haneda, are both members of a global group of carriers known as the Star Alliance.
“It’s a big win for Star Alliance and a big win for United,” said Robert Mann, an aerospace consultant at R.W. Mann & Co. ANA’s “strong presence at Haneda could connect far more Japanese domestic markets to the joint ventures across the Pacific.”
ANA and United’s partnership lets the airlines coordinate schedules and cross-sell Asia-America tickets, as well as sharing revenue and costs.
United wants its own slot at Haneda to fly between there and San Francisco, Rahsaan Johnson, a spokesman for Chicago-based United, said today in an interview.
Last month, ANA said it should get more slots than Japan Air, which has teamed up with AMR Corp.’s American Airlines, because the government assisted Japan Air in its restructuring. The transport ministry hasn’t given a “rational” explanation for granting it fewer slots than ANA, Japan Air said in a statement.
Mary Frances Fagan, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, declined to comment on the decision. American Airlines currently has one flight between Haneda and New York, and Fagan wouldn’t say if the carrier is seeking more slots.
Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) was left out of the initial round of slot distribution, as the carrier doesn’t have a Japanese partner. It must now wait for the remaining slots available to overseas carriers to be distributed.
Delta, which currently has two nighttime flights to Haneda, has said it wants 25 slot pairs so that the company can return most of its flights to Haneda after being forced to move them to Narita Airport in 1978.
The carrier is unlikely to be satisfied, said Mann.
“It’s understandable from a commercial strategy but seems unrealistic from the standpoint of limited access and resources at Haneda,” he said. “It’ll be onesies and twosies, that’s the best they could expect.”
Anthony Black, a Delta spokesman, didn’t immediately return phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.
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