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American and United Looking at Tokyo Expansions

A Boeing 787-9 departing for Tokyo. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

United Airlines and American Airlines have both announced that they have filed applications with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for nonstop flights to Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Thursday.

Chicago-based United has applied for six daily flights to Haneda from Newark, Chicago, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Houston and Guam and Fort Worth, Texas-based American has applied for four daily flights.

United is aiming to meet consumer demand with the flights by connecting passengers traveling from Japan to 112 U.S. airports, approximately two-thirds of the U.S. to Tokyo demand.

With current U.S. to Tokyo bookings at more than three million, United’s proposed routes will represent five of the six largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

“If awarded by the DOT, these new nonstop flights would expand United’s best-in-class Japan route network to better meet demand from U.S. consumers and businesses,” said Scott Kirby, President of United Airlines said in a press release. “Tokyo is a hub of 21st century global commerce and innovation and one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Today’s filing demonstrates United’s unparalleled commitment to helping more Americans travel between our nation and Japan’s capital city. Our proposed flights to Tokyo Haneda will offer an unrivaled experience and maximize choice and convenience for our customers traveling between the United States and Tokyo for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and beyond.”

The carrier already has existing flights to both of Tokyo’s airports, the newer Narita airport and the older Haneda airport. The majority of United’s operations in Tokyo are at Narita, while a flight from San Francisco is operated at Haneda. Proposed flights from Newark, Los Angeles and Guam to Haneda will supplement already existing flights from those hubs to Narita. Meanwhile, flights from Chicago, Washington D.C. and Houston to Narita will be shifted to operate out of Haneda.

United’s new Haneda would also open its customers up to 37 connections in Japan through its joint venture with Star Alliance partner All Nippon Airways (ANA). It is worth noting that ANA has extensive operations, both domestic and international, at Haneda and Narita airports.

American’s is proposing its new Haneda service to operate from Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.

“Tokyo is an important hub for our Pacific Joint Business with Japan Airlines,” said Robert Isom, President of American Airlines. “Enhanced service at Haneda would give our customers better access to downtown Tokyo and open up JAL’s domestic network with flights to destinations like Osaka, Sapporo and Fukuoka.”

Similar to United, the bulk of American’s operations in Tokyo are focused at Narita with only one flight operated to Haneda from Los Angeles.

By expanding operations from the U.S. to Tokyo, American is hoping to connect passengers to more than 800 daily flights and more than 200 destinations in American’s network.

The proposed flight from Las Vegas to Tokyo is also a new opportunity for American, as the carrier does not operate any international flights out of the airport. Las Vegas is a booming market with Japanese tourists and American operated a special flight to CES 2019, a consumer technology trade show, for a few weeks in January.

The new Haneda routes would be operated as part of the Pacific Joint Business agreement that was signed with Japan Airlines, rival carrier of ANA and who also has extensive operations at both Haneda and Narita airports.

Delta Air Lines, rival carrier of both American and United, has already established its presence at both Tokyo airports. The Atlanta-based carrier operates flights to Haneda from its hubs in Los Angeles and Minneapolis/St. Paul and flights to Narita from its hubs in Atlanta, Detroit, Honolulu, Portland, Oregon, Seattle and two additional flights from Manila and Singapore.

If approved, flights for both carriers would commence service in 2020.

Akhil Dewan


  • Akhil Dewan

    An “AvGeek” for most of his life, Akhil has always been drawn to aviation. If there is an opportunity to read about an airline, fly on a new airplane, or talk to anyone about aviation, he is on it. Akhil has been on over 20 different kinds of aircraft, his favorite being the MD-80. Additionally, he has visited 5 continents and plans to knock out the remaining two (Africa and Antarctica) soon. Based in Dallas, Akhil graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Management Information Systems and currently works in consulting. His dream is to become an airline executive.

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