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New York gets a new route to the heart of Tokyo with American Airlines [Updated for schedule information]

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Updated 22 February 2024: We now have the new schedule for this route (see below).

Back in November, both United and American applied to the Department of Transport for the right to use the slot at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport that had become vacant after Delta decided that its proposed Portland – Haneda route wasn’t viable after all, and after a couple of months of lobbying, American Airlines has won the day.

Brief background

In 2019, the government of Japan awarded the United States the right to operate 12 slots at Tokyo Haneda Airport and it fell to the Department of Transport (DoT) to decide which US airlines would get to operate these slots.

American, Delta, Hawaiian, and United all applied to operate flights to/from Haneda and in May of 2019, the slot decisions were announced.

American Airlines applied for 4 slots and was awarded 2, Delta applied for 6 slots and was awarded 5, Hawaiian applied for 3 slots and was awarded 1, and United applied for 6 slots and was awarded 4.

One of the slots that Delta was awarded was to operate a service between Portland and Haneda, but not long after the slots had been awarded, Delta decided that the Portland – Haneda route was no longer of interest.

Delta then asked the DoT for permission to operate the slot from another US city and the DoT quickly said no (because that’s not how slots work – you operate the route that you applied to operate, or the slot goes up for grabs).

Both American Airlines and United Airlines saw this as an opportunity to improve their presence at Haneda (the more central of Tokyo’s international airports) and applied to the DoT to operate the slot vacated by Atlanta’s finest.

United said it wanted to operate a service between Houston and Haneda, while American said that it would use the slot to operate between New York (JFK) and Haneda.

And that’s where we left things in November 2023.

American gets approval

Two months on, we had news.

On Friday (26 January), American Airlines announced that it had been given tentative approval by the DoT to launch a new service between JFK and Haneda (the approval was ‘tentative’ because appeals could still be made against the DoT’s decision to award the vacant Haneda slot to American Airlines) and now (22 February) it looks like that that approval is final.

In the press release confirming that it has tentative approval, American didn’t made any reference to what schedule it plans to operate or what aircraft it plans to use, so we were left to speculate.

Now, however, we have an update.

The new JFK – Haneda route will launch on 28 June 2024 and as expected, American Airlines will operate it using a Boeing 777-200. The schedule looks like this:

New York JFK 11:25 – 14:30+1 day Tokyo Haneda
Tokyo Haneda 16:30 – 16:35 New York JFK

Those timings are within 90 minutes of what we were expecting so American hasn’t pulled out any surprises.

This is how those timings compare to JAL’s flights between JFK and Haneda (JAL being an American Airlines partner):

JL3 JFK 01:40 – 04:45+1 day HND (daily 777-300ER service)
JL5 JFK 13:30 – 16:35+1 day HND (daily A350-1000 service)

JL6 HND 11:05 – 11:05 JFK (daily A350-1000 service)
JL4 HND 18:30 – 18:30 JFK (daily 777-300ER service)

Note: The schedule shown for JAL is the airline’s summer schedule.

Bottom line

The DoT has decided that American Airlines’ proposed route between JFK and Haneda is more in the flying public’s interest than United’s proposed route from Houston, so American Airlines is now set to launch a new trans-Pacific route from 28 June this year.

There is, however, one question left to answer. Given the choice of flying with JAL or flying with American, who’s choosing American?

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  1. I guess the same question could be asked of all airlines. Given the choice of flying All Nippon over United who would fly United crappy product?
    If given the choice of flying Korean or Air France over Delta, I’d choose KE or AF every time. There are those who would choose AA.

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