Japan-US air services grow by 5%

A traditional cask-breaking ceremony kicked off the inaugural nonstop Delta Air Lines service from Seattle-Tacoma, WA to Tokyo Haneda

A traditional cask-breaking ceremony kicked off the inaugural nonstop Delta Air Lines service from Seattle-Tacoma, WA to Tokyo Haneda on 1 June, forming part of the 5% annual growth witnessed in the Japan-US market. Seattle beat three other US cities in gaining access to the highly restricted, previously predominantly domestic downtown Japanese airport.

Improved access to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport has meant a fresh wave of new services between two of the world’s biggest economies – Japan and the United States. In addition, the arrival of game-changing aircraft like Boeing’s 787-8, has allowed its operators (battery issues aside) to start up direct, thin, long-haul routes to points never previously considered with existing long-range aircraft – which is exactly what the aircraft was designed to do (versus Airbus’ strategy with the A380 to just shift as many people as possible between the world’s hubs).

Declining Delta still leads the way

Overall, flights between these two nations have grown by 5% when looking at July 2013 Innovata schedules versus those operated last July. However, the only carrier which has contracted in that period is Delta Air Lines which has cut its monthly frequencies by 4% year-on-year. Despite adding 40 new monthly frequencies, including a new daily link between Seattle-Tacoma, WA and Tokyo Haneda, it has cut 74 frequencies from elsewhere in its Japanese network, including the culling of a daily rotation between Detroit, MI and Tokyo Haneda.

Top 12 airlines in Japan-US market Monthly flights

Source: Innovata – July 2013 vs July 2012

The fastest growing carrier in the market is charter airline Air Japan, which also operates scheduled services under the All Nippon Airways (ANA) brand. Its increase up to daily frequencies from Tokyo Narita to Honolulu, HI has instigated its 48% growth between the two countries. Its parent ANA is #2 for growth, adding 27% more services, or 57 extra monthly flights year-on-year, including its new 787-8 direct service between Tokyo Narita and San Jose in California (which having started in January, resumed on 1 June, following a temporary halt to services). Five airlines have kept their respective capacities unchanged during this period.

California commands 40% of flights

Many of the flights between Japan and US do not technically touch the US mainland, as they operate between Honolulu on Hawaii, Guam or Saipan (the latter two being US territories in the Western Pacific) and Japan. For the purposes of the following chart, routes from these three points to Japan, which actually generate over 50% of all flights, have been excluded. The result is that California, or more specifically Los Angeles and San Francisco, take the top two spots. In fact, departure points in California (LAX, SFO, SAN and SJC) command nearly 40% of all flights between the US mainland and Japan.

Top US Mainland Airports for Japan flights Monthly flights

Source: Innovata – July 2013 vs July 2012

A further eight US airports all have daily services to Tokyo Narita with the likes of Delta (4), United Airlines (3) and Japan Airlines (1), bringing the total of mainland US airports with flights to Japan to 16. The 17th and final US airport with direct services to Japan is San Jose, CA (served by ANA), which along with Denver, CO (United, daily) and San Diego, CA (JAL, daily), has gained flights in the last 12 months. This number of airports is in stark comparison to Japan, where there are only four airports with direct services to the US mainland – namely Tokyo Narita with 955 (78%) of the remaining 1,200 flights; Tokyo Haneda (155/13%); Osaka Kansai (74/6%), and; Nagoya (31/3%). However, when services to the three excluded destinations of Guam, Saipan and Honolulu are included, there are 10 Japanese airports with services to the US and its territories.

US on Skymark’s A380 agenda

Looking in anna.aero’s New Route Database reveals the new routes started in 2013 between the two countries. These include Skymark Airlines’ plans for its A380s, which include flights between Tokyo Haneda and New York JFK, NY, anticipated to start next July.

Launch Date Airline Origin Destination WF Aircraft
11-Jan-13 All Nippon Airways Tokyo (NRT) San Jose, CA (SJC) 5 B788
31-Mar-13 Korean Air Tokyo (NRT) Honolulu, HI (HNL) 7 A333
01-Jun-13 Delta Air Lines Seattle-Tacoma, WA (SEA) Tokyo (HND) 7 B763
10-Jun-13 United Airlines Denver, CO (DEN) Tokyo (NRT) 7 B788
25-Jun-13 Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu, HI, (HNL) Sendai (SDJ) 3 B763
01-Jul-14 Skymark Airlines Tokyo (HND) New York, NY (JFK) TBC A388
Source: anna.aero New Route Database

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