United Airlines protests awarding of Haneda routes to other airlines

United Airlines protests awarding of Haneda routes to other airlines

United Airlines on Wednesday protested its exclusion from new routes to Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

Earlier this month, the Transportation Department tentatively gave four coveted new slot pairs—the rights to take off and land—to other airlines, including two for Delta Air Lines Inc. One went to AMR Corp’s American Airlines and one to Hawaiian Airlines. United and Continental Airlines Inc were shut out.

The slots awards will make it possible for the first time since 1978 for U.S. airlines to serve Haneda airport, which is closer to downtown Tokyo than Tokyo’s other airport, Narita, and more attractive to business travelers.

United said its planned route from San Francisco would benefit more U.S. passengers than Hawaiian’s flights from Honolulu. Hawaiian’s service will mostly benefit passengers originating in Japan, United said, and there is already extensive service between Japan and Honolulu.

United also argued in the filing that Delta already dominates U.S.-Tokyo service so it should not have gotten two more routes. United said that it should be given either Hawaiian’s slot or one of Delta’s.

Continental Airlines Inc and its Continental Micronesia unit objected to the route awards, but did not ask the Transportation Department to change its tentative decision. Continental did ask to be allowed to fly the routes if one of the other carriers doesn’t launch its service as planned.