HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. Department of Transportation, having negotiated temporary daytime flight slots at Tokyo Haneda airport, has decided to let Hawaiian Airlines use one of the slots instead of flying redeyes as it does now.
There are four temporary daytime slots and DOT awarded them to the same four airlines that won the four redeye slots: Hawaiian to Honolulu, United to San Francisco, and American and Delta, both flying from Haneda to Los Angeles.
The change does not begin immediately and a DOT "allocation proceeding" document says the new hours could begin "as early as" October 30.
Executives of all four airlines believe the daytime hours will be more convenient for their passengers, which in the case of Hawaiian Airlines mostly means Japanese vacation travelers to Hawaii. Until now flights from Haneda to anywhere in the United States could not leave until after midnight.
Convenience is key for serving Haneda instead of Narita airport, because Haneda, an older airport and closer to downtown Tokyo than Narita airport, is a hub for flights within Japan. Residents of cities without direct air connections can change planes more easily if their Hawaii flight starts from the same airport.
A month ago, on Feb. 18, Japan and the United States concluded an agreement to add a fifth slot – on the redeye side of the day – while moving the four existing slots to daytime. DOT hasn't decided yet which airline will get the extra slot.
The phrase "daytime hours" actually refers to a broad range of hours from 6 a.m. to 10:55 p.m.
Hawaiian is expected to apply for it but won't be the only one. Hawaiian executives have said for years that it would leverage their fixed costs at Haneda to have a second flight slot there.
Applications are due by April 12.