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ANA’s extra Haneda slots please United

Star Alliance partner expects pricey business seats to sell well

Bloomberg

United Continental Holdings Inc., the world’s largest carrier, stands to benefit after ANA Holdings Inc. received 11 additional takeoff and landing rights at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

ANA, Japan’s biggest airline, was granted more of the international slot pairs by the government than Japan Airlines Co., which received five. The decision is a break from the past, when the carriers shared international slots equally.

The slots will bolster United and ANA’s presence at Haneda, which is favored by business travelers who will pay a premium to land near the middle of the city. ANA and United, which is seeking its first slot on its own at Haneda, are both members of the Star Alliance global group of carriers.

“It’s a big win for Star Alliance and a big win for United,” said Robert Mann, an aerospace consultant at R.W. Mann & Co. ANA’s “strong presence at Haneda could connect far more Japanese domestic markets to the joint ventures across the Pacific.”

United fell 1.4 percent to close at $30.93 in New York, and has gained 32 percent this year. ANA dropped 0.5 percent to ¥216 in Tokyo trading and is up 19 percent this year.

ANA and United’s partnership lets the airlines coordinate schedules and cross-sell Asia-America tickets, as well as sharing revenue and costs.

United wants its own slot at Haneda to fly between Tokyo and San Francisco, Rahsaan Johnson, a spokesman for Chicago-based United, said Wednesday in an interview.

Last month, ANA said it should get more slots than JAL, which has teamed up with AMR Corp.’s American Airlines, because the government assisted JAL in its restructuring. The transport ministry hasn’t given a “rational” explanation for granting it fewer slots than ANA, JAL said in a statement.

Mary Frances Fagan, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, declined comment on the decision. American Airlines currently has one flight between Haneda and New York, and Fagan wouldn’t say if the carrier is seeking more slots.

Delta Air Lines Inc. was left out of the initial round of slot distribution, as the carrier doesn’t have a Japanese partner. It must now wait for the remaining slots available to overseas carriers to be distributed.

Delta, which currently has two nighttime flights to Haneda, has said it wants 25 slot pairs so the carrier can return to Haneda most of the flights of Northwest Airlines, which it absorbed, after being forced to move them to Narita airport in 1978. The carrier is unlikely to be satisfied, said Mann.

“It’s understandable from a commercial strategy but seems unrealistic from the standpoint of limited access and resources at Haneda,” he said. “It’ll be ‘onesies’ and ‘twosies,’ that’s the best they could expect.”