American Suspends Haneda Route for Nearly a Year

Remember last year when airlines were tripping over each other to gain access to Tokyo’s Haneda airport? Remember how amazing those routes would be for business travelers looking to land much closer to Tokyo and not have to deal with the long schlep into the city from Narita? How excited Hawaiian, Delta and American were when they received permission to fly there? Yeah, those were the days.

American just said they would again suspend JFK-Haneda service (after a short stoppage in April-May) beginning in early September and keep the route dormant until next June. Delta, which was approved to fly to Haneda from Los Angeles and Detroit, has already suspended Detroit service until next June as well.

Certainly the earthquake didn’t help matters, but I also have to wonder whether Haneda’s restrictive arrival and departure times for U.S. flights that contributed. Part of the open skies agreement between Japan and the United States to open up Haneda included a provision that flights could only depart and land between Midnight and 7am for flights to the continental U.S. and 10pm-7am for flights to Hawaii. For many, the prospect of getting into their Tokyo hotel at 1am or having to depart their hotel a 330am to catch a 6am flight was very unattractive (even though they probably got up at 4am at some point to go visit the sushi market). To this end American has recently requested that they be allowed to depart closer to 11pm, which would get flights in to JFK at around 11pm local time. An American spokesperson said the earlier departure (instead of a 6:40am departure from Haneda) would give the route a “substantially better chance of succeeding.”

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