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Delta wins preliminary approval of Sea-Tac-Tokyo Haneda service

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Nov. 19, 2012 at 11:26 am |
November 19, 2012 11:26 am

Delta Airlines will begin service between Sea-Tac Airport and Tokyo’s close-in Haneda Airport next March if the federal Department of Transportation makes permanent its recent tentative decision to allow Delta to transfer its rights to serve Haneda from Detroit to Sea-Tac.

Delta won two of the four slots allowed by the Japanese government to serve Haneda from the U.S. two years ago. Those routes were from Los Angeles and Detroit to Haneda.

American Airlines won the rights to serve Haneda from New York, and Hawaiian Airlines won the route from Honolulu to Haneda.

Haneda is just nine miles from downtown Tokyo. Narita is 40 miles distant.

The Detroit route has been a money-loser for Delta.

“Based on its actual operating experience, Delta has found that Eastern U.S.-Haneda service is underperforming relative to the West Coast-Haneda service. Seattle is the largest U.S.-Tokyo market without nonstop Haneda service,” Delta said in its application to the DOT to move the service to Sea-Tac.

American, Hawaiian and United airlines opposed Delta’s application to transfer the route to Sea-Tac. American wanted to serve Haneda from Los Angeles. United wanted a San Francisco-Haneda route. Hawaiian sought a second route from Hawaii. Those airlines and others have until next Monday to appeal the DOT’s tentative decision.

Delta said it believes the Sea-Tac-Haneda route will be more profitable in part because it can serve it with a smaller aircraft, a Boeing 767-300ER, instead of a Boeing 777 used in the Detroit service and because Sea-Tac’s closer proximity to Japan will make for more convenient schedules.

When Japan opened up Haneda to new international flights, it restricted those flight to late night hours.

Delta plans its flight to Haneda to leave Seattle at 7:35 p.m. arriving in Tokyo at 10 p.m. The return flight will leave Haneda at midnight, arriving at Sea-Tac at 5 p.m. the same day.

Delta’s alliance with Sea-Tac-based Alaska Airlines will feed traffic from Alaska’s network to and from the Haneda flights.

Delta in the last two years has greatly increased it foreign non-stops from Sea-Tac. The Atlanta-based carrier now connects Sea-Tac with Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo Narita Airport, Beijing and Osaka. The airline also plans to start Sea-Tac-Shanghai service next year and may re-establish its Sea-Tac London route.

Three carriers, All Nippon Airways, United and Delta, already connect Sea-Tac with Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

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