POSTED: 12:46 p.m. HST, Feb 28, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 1:27 p.m. HST, Feb 28, 2014
Hawaiian Airlines has struck out again in its attempt to land a daily nonstop route between Tokyo's Haneda International Airport and Kona.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said in an order Friday that it was tentatively allocating the vacant Haneda slot to United Airlines to fly daily between San Francisco and Japan. The slot became available when American Airlines discontinued service Dec. 1 between Haneda and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. American said the flight has been unprofitable because the restricted hours it was allowed to operate affected customers' connecting flights to and from other Asian markets.
Hawaiian, which was the only other airline bidding for the Haneda slot, was planning to use a 294-seat Airbus A330-200 on the Haneda-Kona route. Hawaii island has been without scheduled flights from Japan since Japan Airlines ended service Oct. 29, 2010, from Narita International Airport outside Tokyo.
"United's proposal would introduce a new entrant at Haneda, a factor that the department has historically given considerable weight in carrier selection proceedings, and we tentatively find that the opportunity to introduce a new entrant at Haneda would make the best use of the available slot pair," the DOT said in its order.
The DOT also said the selection of United's San Francisco proposal would enhance competition in the San Francisco-Haneda market, noting that San Francisco-Haneda service is currently provided by Japan Airlines, with American Airlines holding a code share with JAL.
"We have taken note of Hawaiian's arguments that the San Francisco-Tokyo market is saturated with excess capacity," the DOT said. "We also tentatively find that the potential benefits of new competition in the San Francisco-Haneda market, and the broader West Coast-Haneda market, outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved by introducing new service to the substantially smaller Kona-Haneda market."
The DOT ruling dashed Hawaiian's hopes for a second Haneda route to go along with the daily service it now operates from there to Honolulu.
"We know that service from Tokyo to Kona would greatly benefit the economies of Hawaii island, our state and the United States, and we are certainly disappointed that our application was not approved," Hawaiian spokeswoman Ann Botticelli said.
In November 2012, Hawaiian lost a bid for a Haneda-Kona route when the U.S. DOT approved Delta Air Lines' request to transfer the carrier's previously approved Haneda slot in Detroit to Seattle rather than allow another airline to use the Haneda slot.
Under a U.S.-Japa--nese agreement, U.S. airlines are permitted to operate a total of four daily round-trip flights per day at Haneda Airport, where operations are limited.
In 2010 the DOT awarded Delta two of those routes, one for service from Detroit and the other from Los Angeles. The other routes approved at that time from Haneda were Hawaiian's Hono--lulu service, which was launched in November of that year, and American's route to New York that was recently dropped. Hawaiian actually applied for two Haneda-Hono-lulu routes in 2010 but was granted only one.