Delta faces rejection over request to alter Tokyo Haneda flight routes amid recovery challenges.

Delta Air Lines’ request to allow it to use up to two of its five Tokyo Haneda (HND) slot pairs to fly from any U.S. airport was recently denied by the U.S. Transportation Department. The department stated that granting airlines the freedom to choose an alternative U.S. gateway would contradict its original reasoning for selecting specific carriers and gateways, thereby undermining public interest decisions aimed at benefiting the traveling public.

In 2019, the department had granted Delta permission to use its five slot pairs to fly to HND from seven specified cities: Atlanta, Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Portland, and Seattle. Delta argued in its recent application that these routes have been slow to recover following the COVID-19 pandemic, with demand from Honolulu at 18% of 2019 levels, for example.

While American and Hawaiian airlines supported the application, United Airlines opposed it, accusing Delta of 'gaming the system' and suggesting the proposal was self-serving. United also accused Delta of charging extremely high fares to suppress demand on the Portland-HND route, which Delta will be required to resume in November once COVID-19-related slot waivers expire.