The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) (Washington) has issued this tentative decision to allow Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) to retain the Seattle/Tacoma – Tokyo Haneda route provided the carrier operates daily, year-round service on the route. Here is the full statement:
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on March 27 proposed to permit Delta Air Lines to retain its authority to provide daily service between Seattle, Washington and Tokyo’s downtown Haneda Airport, but subject to additional conditions designed to ensure that Delta maintains a daily service in the Seattle market year-round.
DOT initiated this proceeding in late 2014 after it learned that Delta planned extensive winter season cutbacks for its Seattle-Haneda service. Instead of the daily service it had proposed in winning the route in a 2013 selection proceeding conducted by DOT, Delta would operate the service for approximately only one week every 90 days between October 2014 and late March 2015. American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, citing Delta’s failure to serve the route as it had proposed, each proposed to replace Delta and committed to operating daily flights from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Los Angeles and Kona, Hawaii, respectively.
In consideration of Delta’s recommitment to year-round daily service, DOT tentatively determined that it was in the public interest to permit Delta to retain the Seattle-Haneda route. However, any failure by Delta (absent DOT authorization) to operate any Seattle-Haneda flight, year-round, in either direction, would constitute a violation of its authority. Additionally, any failure by Delta (absent DOT authorization) to perform Seattle-Haneda service on two days of any seven-day period would mean the immediate loss of Delta’s authority.
DOT selected American Airlines’ proposal to provide Los Angeles-Haneda service as a backup should Delta fail to meet its requirements in serving the Seattle market.
Objections to the tentative decision are due by April 6, 2015. If objections are filed, answers to objections will be due April 13, 2015.
Delta issued this statement:
“Delta thanks the U.S. Department of Transportation for its tentative decision to allow the airline to continue its service between Seattle and Haneda Airport in Tokyo. After an extensive review, the DOT concluded that Delta’s Seattle-Haneda service provides the best public use of the available slot pair between the U.S. and Haneda Airport. Earlier this month, Delta resumed its nonstop service between Seattle and Haneda after a temporary seasonal suspension. Delta will operate year-round, nonstop flights between Seattle and Haneda as we continue to grow Delta’s international gateway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.”
Meanwhile Mark Dunkerley, President and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines (Honolulu), issued this strong response to the tentative DOT decision for Delta to keep the Tokyo Haneda slots:
The tentative decision issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation on March 27 to allow Delta Air Lines to retain the valuable right to fly from Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport for largely unused service to Seattle is tremendously disappointing. We are further disappointed that the U.S. DOT has determined that should Delta’s planned service continue to fail, the Haneda slots will be assigned to American Airlines.
Hawaiian is the only airline to have operated Haneda service continuously and successfully since the slot rights were granted. Our proposal provided more seats and would have resulted in more travelers flying between Japan and the United States than either Delta’s or American’s proposal. Kona is the largest unserved market in this proceeding, and Hawaiian’s proposed route would have generated more economic benefit than that offered by either Delta or American. None of these facts are in dispute by the DOT.
Sadly, by dismissing Hawaiian’s proposed Kona route as just simply being additive to the routes already serving Hawaii, the DOT has once more failed to appreciate the geography of the 50th state. Kona and Honolulu are separate markets, separate communities and indeed are located on separate islands. The tentative ruling also reveals a long-held institutional bias among decision makers favoring the interests of U.S. business travelers over those of U.S. travel-related businesses and travelers in general.
Hawaiian will be considering its next steps in this proceeding in the coming days.
Copyright Photo: TMK Photography/AirlinersGallery.com. Delta’s Airbus A330-223 N860NW (msn 778) is pictured in action at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).