Following the recent expansion of Haneda Airport, four new daytime slots have been released for flights to and from Australia. Two of these slot pairs have already been allocated to Japanese airlines – ANA and Japan Airlines – and the remaining two are available for use by Australian airlines. It is not yet known how ANA and Japan Airlines will allocate their Haneda slots for flights to Australia.
The International Air Services Commission is currently inviting Australian airlines to bid for the slots, which will be allocated by 31 October 2019. The landing and takeoff slots at Haneda Airport will become available for use from 29 March 2020, the start of the northern summer scheduling period.
Realistically, Qantas is the only Australian airline that is likely to apply for the Haneda Airport slots. Jetstar has a hub at Tokyo’s other airport, Narita, and Virgin Australia currently only flies to one destination in northern Asia. It’s already struggling to make a profit flying to Hong Kong, an airport where one of its partner airlines is based and from where it can offer onward connections to London with Virgin Atlantic. So, unless Virgin has a sudden change of strategy, it is unlikely to consider launching flights to Tokyo next year.
Haneda Airport is generally preferred by business travellers to Narita Airport because it is much closer to Tokyo, has better facilities and better transport connections.
Qantas currently flies Boeing 747s daily from Sydney to Haneda Airport, using a night-time slot pair allocated to the airline around five years ago. The night-time slot period at Haneda Airport runs from 10pm until 6am the following morning. (This is why Qantas’ current flight to Haneda arrives at 5.15am, with the aircraft sitting on the ground all day in Tokyo before returning to Sydney at 10pm. Conveniently, Qantas also finds it commercially beneficial to operate both flights overnight.)
All Nippon Airways also flies from Sydney to Haneda using night slots, mirroring the Qantas schedule almost exactly. The new four slot pairs that have been allocated at Haneda Airport are for daytime flights, i.e. arriving and departing between 6am and 10pm.
This informative AFF post by himeno explains the slot restrictions at Haneda Airport.
Qantas also flies from Brisbane and Melbourne to Tokyo’s Narita Airport, while Jetstar flies from Gold Coast and Cairns to Narita. Japan Airlines currently flies from Melbourne and Sydney to Narita, and All Nippon Airways has just commenced flying between Perth and Narita.
Qantas has previously announced that it will retire its Boeing 747s in 2020. But there have been recent rumours that Qantas could extend the life of its Boeing 747 fleet until 2021.
Qantas has already announced plans to switch all of its current Boeing 747 routes to Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners within the next year, except for its flights from Sydney to Johannesburg, Vancouver and Haneda. There have been rumours that Johannesburg and Haneda could become A380 destinations for Qantas, but a more likely scenario given the newly-available Haneda slots would be double-daily Qantas Dreamliner flights from Sydney to Tokyo. This could have implications elsewhere in the network, however, and could see Qantas’ new Joint Venture partner American Airlines taking over one of Qantas’ current trans-Pacific routes to free up aircraft.
How will this all play out? We’ll find out soon enough.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Qantas eyes new slots at Haneda (Tokyo)