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Business trends

US airlines scramble for new Haneda landing slots

Carriers plan routes to Dallas, Seattle, Detroit and Atlanta ahead of 2020 Olympics

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-800 plane arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah. American airline companies are applying to open new routes to Japan.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines have all submitted applications to the U.S. Department of Transportation to add flights to and from Japan as new landing slots open up at Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

U.S. carriers will be given a total of 12 new flights a day at Haneda ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, though the precise allocation has yet to be determined.

Delta is looking to add new direct flights between Haneda and Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta and Portland, aimed at capturing business travelers with flights to and from large American cities. It also wants two direct flights between Haneda and Honolulu a day, which it says will promote trade and tourism.

Delta now operates routes connecting Haneda with Minneapolis and Los Angeles, carrying more than 800,000 passengers so far.

United has made requests for direct service between Haneda and six airports, including Newark in the New York metropolitan area. The new nonstop flights "would expand United’s best-in-class Japan route network to better meet demand from U.S. consumers and businesses," United President Scott Kirby said in a news release.

American Airlines will seek to secure Dallas and Los Angeles routes servicing Haneda.

Tokyo and Washington agreed in January to create new flight paths that cut through airspace managed by the U.S. military's Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. The deal will increase the number of daytime landings and takeoffs for international flights at Haneda to 99,000 a year from the current 60,000. This translates to roughly 50 more flights a day.

Long-distance U.S.-Japan routes, which also carry hefty price tags, are important to American carriers as well. Haneda has many connecting flights to regional cities, making it convenient for travelers arriving from the U.S.

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