• American, United, Hawaiian, Delta flights may land in daytime
  • Late-night arrivals had been a source of traveler frustration

U.S. airlines won the right to fly into an airport near downtown Tokyo during daytime hours, making travel to the Japanese capital more convenient for travelers and potentially more profitable for the carriers.

American and United had pushed for the switch because nighttime arrivals were unpopular and made less business sense. Hawaiian and Delta also received permission to land and take off from Tokyo’s Haneda airport during the day.

“It’s important for our customers to have convenient access to downtown Tokyo during the day, and this agreement also allows for desirable arrival and departure times in the U.S.-for-Haneda service,” American Airlines President Scott Kirby said in a statement.

Thursday’s agreement provides the U.S. airlines with six pairs of takeoff and landing rights at Haneda. Five of the pairs can be operated in the daytime, while the sixth is reserved for nighttime operations. Previously, all flights from the U.S. into the airport were limited to night.

U.S. Flights

Hawaiian Holdings Inc. has the right to fly one route from Hawaii to Haneda; United flies there from San Francisco; and American and Delta each serve the airport from Los Angeles. By this fall, those flights may be moved to daytime hours.

Both American Airlines Group Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. have partnerships with Japanese carriers that may increase the financial benefits of the new deal. Delta Air Lines Inc., which lacks a partner in the country, had lobbied against the change and said it is “deeply disappointed” by the decision.

In January, Delta told the Minneapolis airport commission that its Japanese hub at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport may be threatened by adding daytime flights at Haneda.

As people opt for the new Haneda flights, Delta may cut flights to Narita from New York and Los Angeles. Smaller routes from Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon, may be reduced as the airline sees less traffic connect through Narita to other points in Asia, the carrier said in its Minneapolis presentation.

Extra Boost

American and United may enjoy an extra benefit from opening Haneda to daytime flights, Delta said. American and United have partnerships with Japan Airlines Co. and ANA Holdings, respectively, and the parties share revenue and equipment on the routes. If any of those rival airlines win more daytime access to Haneda, its partners benefit as well, Delta said.

“Delta is committed to doing our best to maintain the viability of our current Asian route structure and our Tokyo-Narita hub for as long as possible, recognizing that commercial impacts are imminent,” Peter Carter, Delta’s chief legal officer, said in a statement Thursday. “Delta will make a careful assessment and adjust our network accordingly.”

Under the agreement, Japanese airlines would be able to apply for one additional daytime and one more nighttime slot pair at Haneda for flights to the U.S.

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