HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian Airlines has won a second daily flight slot at Tokyo Haneda airport, but now faces two hurdles in its move to double its Haneda airlift.
Haneda, closer to downtown Tokyo than Narita, is a hub for flights from all over Japan, but international flights from this airport are scarce. U.S. airlines have just four slots, all redeyes, though they are scheduled to move to earlier hours later this year.
Hawaiian has one of the four slots and flies to Honolulu daily. United has one and flies to San Francisco with it. The remaining two are used by American and Delta, both to serve LAX.
The new slot, which will be a redeye and remain so, is more valuable to Hawaiian than mainland carriers because a redeye department works for trips to Hawaii better than to more distant cities on the mainland. Hawaiian was the only applicant before deadline, and sought quick approval.
Friday morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx phoned Sen. Brian Schatz to tell him the slot was awarded to Hawaiian.
"Hawaiian has a proven record of success in the Tokyo market and there continues to be tremendous demand to fly into Hawaii," Schatz said.
The two hurdles for Hawaiian at this point:
- The existing slots are all under review by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Hawaiian, United and American are asking for automatic assignment as they are today, but Delta is asking for more slots. Hawaiian hopes to keep its current slot, but with earlier hours.
- Kona airport does not have the customs infrastructure that Washington has been seeking. Up to now, Homeland Security has been reluctant to make an exception to its usual specs.
The state is taking steps to make Kona compliant with federal requirements for secure customs infrastructure. It is still conceivable that a temporary exemption might be made, though none has been signaled. It is also conceivable that customs could be done at Haneda.
Homeland Security has been experimenting with this in other airports, effectively shifting security checks from the end of the flight to the beginning.