Landing and takeoff slots to be made available when a long-awaited runway at Haneda airport opens in April may be distributed in a way that encourages competition and favors fledging competitors, according to a Transport Ministry panel meeting Jan. 17.”Reducing the differences in the number of slots provided for airlines at Haneda airport has been our homework for a long time. We think this is the best and only chance to rectify such unfairness,” Masahiko Kurono, head of the ministry’s civil aviation bureau, told the meeting.Currently, All Nippon Airways, which enjoys a majority share in the domestic air travel market, claims about half of the total slots at Haneda, and such firms as Japan Airlines and Japan Air System have long complained that their business opportunities at the airport are limited. Once the new runway opens, about 40 additional flights a day will be made available.ANA is seeking 35 slots, JAL is calling for 26 slots, and JAS hopes to obtain 33 slots. Kurono’s remark appears to suggest that JAL and JAS would be favored over ANA in the new distribution. The panel, composed of scholars and other experts on the industry, has been working on how to distribute the new slots and will announce its final report Feb. 7, the Transport Ministry said. It will allocate the new slots, based on the final report, by the end of next month, the ministry said.During the meeting, the panel members also agreed to reserve a certain number of slots for new airlines that will enter the market in the near future. Many members said such firms should receive a quarter of the 40 new slots, although they did not make a final decision on the number.

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