Hawaiian Airlines is the first of the US carriers to secure a slot at Tokyo‘s Haneda airport under the new agreement allowing for daytime operations. Alas, the slot secured is for night operations. Hawaiian was the only carrier to apply for a night-time slot and, though it was the third choice for the carrier, it also was relatively unopposed and the Department of Transportation chose to allocate it even as discussions over the five daytime slots continues.
Despite the arguments that Hawaiian’s nighttime request is contested, the Department finds nothing in the objections of Delta and United that overcomes the absence of any other application for nighttime slot pair authority. Hawaiian, and Hawaiian alone, requested the nighttime slot pair, and the Department finds that prompt approval of Hawaiian’s request is consistent with the public interest. In these circumstances, the Department does not find that any additional regulatory procedures are necessary to decide the matter.
Nor does the Department find that delaying approval of Hawaiian’s application would be consistent with the public interest. Allocating Hawaiian the nighttime slot pair now will allow Hawaiian to participate in the Haneda airport slot allocation process, thereby enhancing the U.S. carrier presence at Haneda during the forthcoming winter season. The Department finds no basis to conclude that the public interest would be better served by allowing a valuable slot right to go unused.
As a final matter, this decision in no way prejudices the outcome of the ongoing carrier selection proceeding for daytime slot pairs. The other applicants have already availed themselves of the opportunity to challenge Hawaiian’s application for daytime authority and they can continue to do so.
Hawaiian’s application indicates that the slot will be used for split service between Kona (3x weekly) and Honolulu (4x) a move it hopes will allow for an increase in service to the islands from Japan. Kona has been the target of applications in the past but this is the first time it has been successful. It also may prove to be a tactical win for the carrier.
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Hawaiian remains hopeful that its history of service between Honolulu and Haneda is sufficient to secure a daytime slot as well. Indeed, such a move – getting the night slot and then pushing for a day slot – is something Delta Air Lines suggested was inappropriate in a DoT filing as Hawaiian pushed for the early/immediate allocation.
Delta does not object to the Department awarding Hawaiian the nighttime slot pair as the sole award to Hawaiian. Delta also supports an award of the nighttime slot with gateway flexibility within the Hawaiian Islands, for Hawaiian to use as it sees fit, at Honolulu, Kona, or any combination thereof.
Hawaiian is seeking to have it both ways, however, by seeking a nighttime award now while reserving its rights to obtain a daytime slot pair. The Department should deny Hawaiian’s motion and defer action until it has completed its review of the public benefits of the nighttime slot pair award, together with all the other applications and filings, to ensure full and fair consideration of all proposals in the context of overall competitive parity and the public interest.
— Edward Russell (@ByERussell) May 9, 2016
And so we have at least one answer from the DoT, though the other five remain far more contested. Will Hawaiian also keep a daytime slot? If it does then only one of the three mainland carriers gets a new authority, a move which would limit new service and almost certainly prevent Delta from getting the three slots it seeks, though that was unlikely even if the night slot was not immediately allocated.
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