JAL's comments on additional slot allocations at Haneda


Today, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) announced the allocation of 31 out of the 40 new day-time slot pairs to be added from fiscal year 2014. The allocation heavily favors All Nippon Airways (ANA) which was awarded 11 out of the 16 slot pairs available to Japanese carriers while Japan Airlines (JAL) was only awarded 5 new slot pairs.

The 11 additional pairs awarded to ANA will give it rights to add 1 daily flight from Tokyo Haneda to Canada, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, France, United Kingdom, Thailand, and Singapore, and 2 daily flights to Germany. While JAL will only be able to add 1 daily flight to China, Thailand, Singapore, United Kingdom, and France. 

JAL has been advocating for an equal allocation between the two Japanese carriers and of course is not happy about the result. Below is the statement (Japanese, English) issued by JAL regarding the allocation.

Japan Airlines (JAL) has received notification from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) regarding the current allocation of international flight departure and arrival slots to be added from FY2014 at Tokyo (Haneda) Airport.

From the standpoint of the factors listed below, JAL had requested an equal allocation based on the idea that equal distribution among the two airlines operating international flights would lead to the maximization of both convenience for passengers and benefit to the national interest.

  • Promotion of connections linking domestic and overseas points
  • Promotion of passenger convenience through competition among the two main Japanese airlines and global alliances
  • Maximization of numbers of flights within limited departure and arrival slots

The content of the notification is among 16 additional slots at Tokyo (Haneda) Airport for Japanese airlines, JAL was allocated 5 slots but the other Japanese airline received 11. It diverged greatly from an even allocation. In addition, the new criteria pertained to the establishment of a given new route which set the limitation for free business activities, and we sincerely regret that we cannot accept this.

Decisions regarding the allocation of national assets such as departure and arrival slots were not made from the standpoint of maximization of passenger convenience and the national interest. Additionally, no rational reason was given by MLIT as to how the current allocation would bring about such benefits. We received the explanation that this decision was made based on whether or not the criteria pertained to the establishment of a given new route. It has not been specifically explained why new criteria have been abruptly established, why it is that routes established at Tokyo (Haneda) Airport are to be regarded as “new”, or how they might impede or distort an appropriate competitive environment. JAL will proceed to formally seek from MLIT a rational explanation and a correction of the content of this allocation.

It makes absolutely no sense to award ANA both pairs of new slots to Germany. The Star Alliance will basically have monopoly in the Tokyo Haneda - Germany routes given ANA's joint venture partner Lufthansa who shares profits with ANA will likely be awarded the 2 slots for German carriers. This is so against the public interests. Passengers will probably have to pay more on these routes given Japan has given ANA all the pricing power on the direct flights!

Honestly, even though JAL is seeking a formal explanation and correction, I don't expect the allocation will change at this point. Hopefully the remaining slots will be allocated fairly. There are a total of 9 slot pairs left, which the Japanese carriers will probably get 4 of them. These will be allocated after the negotiation with the US government is completed. With this result, I am not sure if both ANA and JAL will be awarded 2 pairs each or ANA will be given 3 instead. Hopefully the US Department of Transportation will take this unfair and imbalanced allocation into account when allocating the slots to the US carriers and award none of the slots to the Star Alliance members.



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