HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Delta Airlines has filed schedule changes which show it is abandoning its second landing slot at Tokyo Haneda airport, with the last flight from Seattle on Sept. 28.
Hawaiian Airlines had sought the slot to serve Haneda-Kona but the U.S. Department of Transportation allowed Delta to keep the slot for Haneda-Seattle despite the airline going weeks at a time without using it.
DOT required daily service going forward, and said if Delta ever returned the slot or failed to fulfill the daily requirement it would go to American Airlines, which has no Haneda slots and wants to fly Haneda-LAX.
Tokyo has two main airports. Narita, which handles mostly international flights, is far from the city, while Haneda, which handles mostly domestic flights inside Japan, is closer to town. For years many Japanese vacationers would fly to Haneda, then ride a bus to Narita to catch a flight to Hawaii, losing most of a day in the process.
There are only four Haneda landing slots per day for all U.S. airlines to share. DOT decides who gets each one. Hawaiian has one, and flies Haneda-Honolulu daily. United has one, and flies to San Francisco with it. Delta had two, flying to LAX and SeaTac.
Delta has a history of winning Haneda slots and then not using them fully. Its original second slot was used to fly to Detroit. The airline later said that didn't work out. Other airlines sought the slot but DOT awarded it to Delta again, this time to serve Seattle. Then Delta cut back Seattle service, claiming in its DOT filing that the route was cyclical, though parallel flights from Narita to Seattle were not cut back.
DOT gave Delta a third bite at the apple, but this time insisted on daily service and named American as runner-up, to get the slot if Delta failed to use it fully, as had now happened.
Hawaiian Airlines has said it was quicker to launch Haneda service after winning a slot than any other airline, and has maintained daily service even when traffic slowed.