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Haneda home to new routes, more flights

The new terminal expansion at Haneda Airport, foregound, started operations Sunday, March 31.

Publication Date : 01-04-2014

 

The annual number of international slots to and from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport has increased from 60,000 to 90,000, a boost to airlines that will let them operate more daytime flights.

The 50 per cent increase in overseas slots, which took effect Sunday, has added six new international routes, raising Haneda’s total to 23. It has also increased the number of flights involving the airport to a daily maximum of 77.

Airlines hope the increase will encourage more people from Tokyo and neighboring areas to use flights arriving at and departing from Haneda. Air carriers also expect Haneda to serve as a hub between various domestic and international locations.

The airport will serve as a key gateway to Tokyo as the city hosts the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and so further efforts must be made to enhance Haneda’s functions. It also will be essential to define the respective roles of Haneda and Narita airports.

“Haneda can be easily accessed from the center of Tokyo and it accommodates a number of domestic routes,” All Nippon Airways President Osamu Shinobe said at a ceremony marking the start of services between Haneda and Hanoi on Sunday. “We’ll try to expand our network [of routes served by ANA],” he said.

ANA has added seven new routes at Haneda to its network, raising its total to 23 flights on 17 routes.

Japan Airlines now has 17 flights on 12 international routes to and from Haneda, including new routes to Ho Chi Minh and London. JAL has also changed its flight to Paris from late at night to the daytime, hoping to attract more passengers.

The efforts by each airline to increase their flights at Haneda reflect the profitability of international flights to and from the airport. Flights involving Haneda enjoy greater popularity among international passengers, allowing airlines to sell tickets at smaller discounts than those involving Narita Airport. The average fare for flights involving Haneda is more than 10 per cent higher per passenger than at Narita.

Another advantage enjoyed by Haneda is that the airport is used by many people for business trips. The new routes to and from Haneda are enjoying favourable ticket sales. “Business class tickets sell out first,” a JAL official said.

Haneda has a sizable network of 49 domestic routes, and it provides easy connections for transit passengers. This advantage can be used to compete with Incheon Airport in South Korea in attracting passengers who hope to fly to the United States or Europe from regional airports in Japan.

In some cases, passengers travelling from regional Japanese airports have found it easier to fly to such destinations via Incheon than via Narita. There are more flights between Incheon and regional airports than between Narita and the domestic airports.

Haneda has many flights to and from the domestic regional airports. “We’re determined to win back passengers [flying to the United States and Europe from regional areas in Japan],” an ANA official said.

Foreign airlines are also stepping up efforts to improve their flight services involving Haneda. Lufthansa Airlines of Germany has put up posters at all 72 stations along the Keikyu route connecting Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture to Haneda, as well as inside Keikyu trains, to advertise the launch of flights between Haneda and two German cities.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines has increased its late-night and early-morning flights from Haneda to three from the previous two. This has been complemented by scheduling SA flights to depart from Haneda in the morning, late afternoon and evening, increasing convenience for passengers.

The Japanese government’s efforts to ease the visa requirements in recent years has provided a tailwind for Southeast Asian airlines.

In 2013, the number of travellers to Japan from six Southeast Asian countries exceeded the 2012 level, including a 74 per cent increase in Thai visitors to about 450,000 last year.

Thai Airways International has increased its daily flights involving Haneda to two, and changed its flight schedule to ensure Thai Airways flights arrive at several minutes past 9pm and 6:55am. This has made it easier for passengers to change planes at Haneda for regional destinations in Japan.

The six new international routes involving Haneda cover services to and from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Manila, Jakarta, Vancouver and Munich. Tokyo International Air Terminal Corp., the operator of Haneda’s international terminal, has spent 65 billion yen to increase the airport’s floor space by 50 per cent and has increased the number of connecting flight counters.

In September, a new hotel will be opened that will allow transit passengers to check in without completing embarkation procedures.

 

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