By Tim Kelly and Kentaro Sugiyama
TOKYO Oct 1 Japan's government plans to award
ANA Holdings, the nation's biggest carrier, more than
half of 20 new international arrival and departure slots at
Tokyo's Haneda Airport, more than twice what it will give to
rival Japan Airlines, two sources with knowledge of the
decision said on Tuesday.
The allocation, which could be announced as early as
Wednesday, concludes a politically charged battle over landing
rights that has threatened to embroil foreign carriers.
The slots, which airlines normally retain as long as they
stay in business, can be worth around $20 million a year each in
operating profit, industry analysts have told Reuters. ANA
lobbied hard for a big share of the landing rights, arguing that
it had been put at a competitive disadvantage by JAL's $3.5
billion taxpayer funded bailout in 2010.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, which was in
opposition when JAL was rescued, has proved sympathetic to ANA's
call for a rebalance. Although the latest allocation falls short
of ANA's demand for all the new slots, it represents a blow to
ANA will receive 11 slots against five for JAL, the sources
told Reuters on condition they weren't identified. The
distribution of a further four slots designated for routes to
and from the United States will be decided after Japan concludes
bilateral negotiations with the U.S. government, they added.
Such allocations are normally split down the middle by civil
aviation officials, but the latest allocation was instead
decided with heavy involvement from the Prime Minister's office,
industry sources have said.
As JAL is a member of the OneWorld carrier alliance, fellow
members including British Airways and American Airlines
voiced concern that a decision favouring ANA at Haneda, the
world's fourth-busiest airport, would hurt their grouping by
giving ANA and thus its fellow Star Alliance members an edge at
With no new runways or airports planned for Japan's capital,
any such disadvantage for JAL and its partners could be locked
in for years.
JAL, once Asia's biggest carrier, has argued that any
competition issues should be settled through other means than
slot allocations. ANA insisted that a bankruptcy process that
wiped out most of JAL's debt while allowing it to keep tax
credits needed to be addressed urgently.
In the quarter to June 30, JAL made an operating profit of
22 billion yen ($224.20 million), while ANA posted a 5.6 billion
yen operating loss.