TOKYO -- All Nippon Airways is poised to edge out Japan Airlines in a decision over 25 new departure and arrival slots at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, which is undergoing an expansion in traffic that means hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue.
Under the final draft of a plan being discussed by regulators, ANA would receive 13.5 slot pairs while JAL would take 11.5. That means ANA Holdings unit ANA would retain its lead in international slots at Haneda including its current share.
New airspace will be made available to flights leaving and arriving at Haneda next March as a result of negotiations between the U.S. and Japan over the American military's Yokota Air Base.
This will mean an increase of 50 slots at the airport ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Half of the total will go to international carriers such as Delta Air Lines, which will move its Japan hub to Haneda from Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture.
One Haneda slot reportedly translates to billions of yen (1 billion yen equals $9.4 million) in additional revenue for either of the two Japanese airlines.
For JAL, the proposed allocation represents a relaxation of restrictions that the carrier had borne as a result of its 2010 taxpayer-funded bailout.
The flag carrier's government-backed rescue came with conditions, including restrictions on expanding its business, meant to preserve fair competition with private-sector airlines that did not receive public support.
One stipulation was that ANA would be granted priority when the transport ministry awarded flight slots. In 2013, JAL received only five slots at Haneda while ANA scored 11.
The new allocation now under discussion at the transport ministry will take into account airlines' passenger traffic and other factors. The official assignment of slots will be announced as soon as next month.
Haneda Airport was originally the main international gateway for Tokyo but had focused on mainly domestic flights once Narita Airport opened in 1978.
But popular for being located far closer to central Tokyo than Narita, Haneda has rapidly increased international services in recent years.
Under the U.S.-Japan deal, the number of annual arrival and departure slots for Haneda's international flights will rise to 99,000 from the current 60,000. The newly available flight path will let commercial planes travel over central Tokyo.
Up to 24 of the 50 new flight slots will be assigned to Japan-U. S. routes. The rest likely will go to China, Australia, Russia and Turkey, among other destinations.
For routes with multiple slots, such as those to the U.S. or China, new slots will in principle be distributed evenly between JAL and ANA.