Jan 8, 2014

MLIT to allow temporary utilization of unused slots at Haneda by chartered flights

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) intends to enable the operation international chartered flights on the "unused slots" at the Haneda Airport that might be created in case of failure to finish negotiations with airline carriers in relation to the 30,000-slot (40 flights per day, or 80 times) annual increase in the number of slots that can be utilized for the departure and arrival of international flights in the daytime during the 2014 summer schedule (from March 31) of the airport. To serve as a provisional measure in the summer schedule for 2014 at the airport, the departure/arrival slots (currently standing at nine flights, 18 times a day) that have yet to be allocated will serve as the maximum volume of slots that will be given to such flights. In principle, this will enable the use of the slots for inclusive tour charters (ITC). But should there be any extra slots available, then these may apparently be used for international tour chartered flights and international cargo chartered flights as well.

Airline negotiations have been steadily advancing toward the operation of international regular flights in relation to the proposed increase in the slots for international flights at Haneda Airport during daytime in and beyond the 2014 summer schedule. Thus far, Japan has reached an agreement about the allocation of such slots with 10 countries, comprising the U.K., France, China (Beijing), Singapore, Thailand, Germany, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Canada.

Under the above agreement, the slots will be used for 31 flights per day. The remaining nine flights are envisioned to be allotted to flights to/from the U.S. However, since there are no ongoing negotiations with the U.S., it is possible that there will be departure/arrival slots (unused slots) whose allocation has yet to be fixed.

The MLIT explained that, "If all the necessary airline talks are not done by the time the slots are increased from the volume set under the summer schedule, then the corresponding departure/arrival slots cannot be earmarked for airline companies and we fear that the valuable departure/arrival slots at Haneda Airport will all be rendered unusable by the time of such slot increase." In order to effectively use the international flight departure/arrival slots at the airport as much as possible, the MLIT intends to have the extra slots, which might surface after adjustments are made on international regular flights, used for international tour chartered flights and so on.

These slots will be used in ITC in principle, but if there is any extra space, then this can also be utilized in other irregular flights. In that case, it is projected that the slots could possibly be used for international tour chartered flights of individuals and groups, as well as international cargo chartered flights.

Now with regard to the utilization of the unused slots that belongs to the increased number of slots for the summer season at Haneda, it seems that the MLIT is considering having the slots used by service flight routes that are not served by regular international tour flights to Haneda Airport (in the case of cargo chartered flights, this would then refer to regular international cargo flights that are not run to Haneda). Now on the basis of the opinions gathered from the concerned sectors in the industry, the MLIT will work out the details of the slot increase and then issue a circular about it between late January and early February. As regards actual use of the slots, the condition is that the existing regulations on the operation of chartered flights and the adjustment of departures and arrivals will be followed.

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