Transport doles out new Haneda flight slots

In a move aimed at promoting further competition in the nation’s aviation industry, the Transport Ministry has favored small and fledgling airlines over the dominant All Nippon Airlines in its final distribution of slots for new flights at Haneda airport.

Of the 80 flights — 40 new arrivals and 40 departures — at Haneda to be made available by April next year, the ministry announced Mar. 6 that ANA will receive only 18 flights, while Japan Airlines will get 24 and Japan Air System 26. However, the change in the airlines’ shares of flights at Haneda will be minor.

The remaining 12 flights will go to new firms that have announced plans to start serving domestic routes within the next two to three years. The flights will be divided evenly among ANA, JAL and JAS until the new firms begin operations.

As part of the liberalization of the aviation business, the ministry also decided to allow airlines to flexibly determine flight destinations based on passenger needs, instead of flying only to ministry-designated airports. Distribution of Haneda’s new slots has been closely monitored by the nation’s airlines because more than half the number of domestic passengers, or 42 million people a year, fly to and from Haneda. It is estimated that adding one round trip to and from Haneda translates into about 2 billion yen in annual income to airlines.

The number of daily flights to and from the airport, which currently stands at about 560, is expected to increase by 40 starting next summer and by an additional 40 in April 1998. Of all Haneda flights, ANA currently accounts for 49 percent, JAL 21 and JAS 30 percent.

After distribution of the new slots, ANA will still hold 45 percent of all flights, JAL 23 percent and JAS 30. According to the latest figures, ANA commands a 52 percent share of the domestic aviation market, while JAL holds 26 percent and JAS 22 percent.