Victoria has backed Qantas’s bid to secure to two slots at Tokyo Haneda Airport.
Qantas is seeking the two new slots for Australia-Tokyo Haneda services to add a second daily Sydney-Tokyo Haneda rotation, as well as switch its current Melbourne-Tokyo Narita flight to the close-in Haneda airport.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has applied for one of the two available slots to begin nonstop Brisbane-Tokyo Haneda services.
In a submission to Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC), Victoria said it was in favour of Qantas’s plans for the nonstop Melbourne-Tokyo Haneda flight.
“The Victorian Government, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions supports the Qantas application and welcomes this allocation opportunity, which will provide direct flights between Melbourne and Haneda for the fist time,” the department’s deputy secretary David Latina said in the submission, published on the IASC website.
“Proximity of Haneda Airport to Tokyo and Qantas Airways proposal has the potential to attract premium and business travellers who prefer convenience to serve their travel needs and contribute to their professional success.”
Qantas has told the IASC granting the two available slot to the airline would “deliver the greatest benefit to the public” and was the “only no risk option” to launch and utilise scarce and strategically valuable slots to/from Haneda Airport.
“For Qantas, which has proven its specific and ongoing commitment to the Japan route during both periods of growth and declining demand, there is no risk that additional services to/from Haneda Airport will be launched and maintained,” Qantas’s October 2 submission said.
Tokyo Haneda Airport, which is located much closer to Tokyo city than Tokyo Narita, had previously been predominantly used by Japanese carriers as a domestic airport.
However, there have been efforts to expand the number of international services at Haneda amid a Japanese government push to attract more tourists to the country.
While the Victorian government has offered its support for the Qantas application, Brisbane Airport, Tourism Australia and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have lined up behind Virgin Australia’s application for one slot.
The ACCC said sharing available allocations between the two carriers was likely to promote greater competition.
Further, the competition watchdog said it anticipated that Virgin Australia’s entry would stimulate competition for flights between Australia and Japan and was likely to elicit a competitive response from other airlines.
“The ACCC considers that allocating one frequency between Australia and Haneda to Virgin Australia and one to Qantas would promote competition to a much greater extent than allocating both frequencies to Qantas,” ACCC general manager for adjudication David Jones said in an October 2 submission published on the IASC website.
Similarly, Tourism Australia managing director Philippa Harrison said granting Virgin Australia one of the two available slots would mean the introduction of new airline with nonstop flights between Australia and Japan.
“Virgin Australia’s proposal has the potential to increase disposals of Japanese visitors within Australia between the eastern and western seaboards, through its partnership with ANA which currently flies to Sydney and Perth,” Harrison said in Tourism Australia’s submission published on the IASC website.
“One behalf of Tourism Australia and the Australian tourism industry we recommend the IASC approves Virgin Australia’s application for access to Haneda.”
Virgin Australia has told the IASC it planned to start Brisbane-Tokyo Haneda services with Airbus A330-200s in partnership with Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA).
In September, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) allocated a total of four new slot pairs for Australia-Tokyo Haneda routes, comprising two new slot pairs for Japanese carriers – one for All Nippon Airways (ANA) and one for Japan Airlines – and two new slot pairs for Australian carriers.
The allocation was among a package of 50 slot pairs for international services at Tokyo Haneda, with 25 for Japanese airlines and 25 for international carriers.
Also, the slots would be for daytime services – notionally between 0600 and 2255 – as air traffic managers opened up more airspace in the Tokyo area to support the additional flights.
Currently, there were nine nonstop routes between Australia and Japan operated by four carriers – Sydney-Tokyo Haneda (ANA and Qantas), Sydney-Tokyo Narita (Japan Airlines), Sydney-Osaka Kansai (Qantas), Melbourne-Tokyo Narita (Japan Airlines and Qantas), Brisbane-Tokyo Narita (Qantas), Gold Coast-Tokyo Narita (Jetstar), Cairns-Osaka Kansai (Jetstar), Cairns-Tokyo Narita (Jetstar) and the recently commenced Perth-Tokyo Narita service from ANA.
And there is new capacity coming later in 2019, with Qantas scheduled to operate a seasonal Sydney-Sapporo nonstop flight with Airbus A330 equipment between December 2019 and March 2020.
The IASC said on September 3 it was aiming to allocate the two Tokyo Haneda slots by October 31 2019, in order to enable Australian carriers to begin flights from March 29 2020, the start of the 2020 northern summer scheduling period. It described the deadline as a “tight timeframe”.
ANA and Japan Airlines were yet to announce how they planned to use the additional Tokyo Haneda slot for Australian routes.