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Looser regulations allow Star and oneworld to tighten partnerships; Delta continues domination

18-Feb-2011

In the throes of bankruptcy, Japan Airlines was wooed by Delta, intent on prying it from the oneworld group. In the end, the overtures were unsuccessful but it has not prevented Delta from remaining the dominant foreign carrier in Japan, with a local network that is unprecedented elsewhere in the world.

Thwarted but still on top

And far from standing still, the carrier continues to expand in the region with the following services commenced or announced. While most of the service is still focussed on Japan, there are three services involving Chinese points. In the ongoing scrum for Asia, Delta is sitting atop the pile.

Between

Effective

Frequency

Detroit

Beijing

1-Jul

5 weekly

Honolulu

Nagoya

operating

Daily

Atlanta

Shanghai

5-Jun

2 weekly

Tokyo NRT

Palau

operating

4 weekly

Detroit

Tokyo HND

19-Feb

Daily

Los Angeles

Tokyo HND

19-Feb

Daily

Tokyo NRT

Guangzhou

6-Apr

Daily

Tokyo NRT

Manila

5 Apr-15 Jul

4 weekly

A major presence in Tokyo

The following table shows Delta’s presence at Tokyo, as of second quarter 2011. As a foreign carrier, it has a stupendous operation, with routes that not even Japan's carriers serve.

Tokyo to

 

 Comments

Atlanta

7 x 777

only service

Bangkok

7 x 333

 

Beijing

1 x 767

 

Busan

7 x 757

no Japanese

Detroit

14 x 744

NRT/HND

Guam

7 x 767

 
 

14 x 757

 

Guangzhou

7 x 767

only 3 N/S

Hong Kong

7 x 744

 

Honolulu

7 x 767

 
 

7 x 333

 

Los Angeles

14 x 744

NRT/HND

Manila

7 x 744

 
 

4 x 757

 

Minneapolis

7 x 744

 

New York

7 x 744

 

Palau

4 x 757

only service

Portland

7 x 767

only service

Saipan

17 x 757

only service

San Francisco

7 x 767

 

Seattle

7 x 333

 

Seoul

7 x 757

 

Shanghai

7 x 744

 

Singapore

7 x 777

 

Taipei

1 x 757

 

With nine US gateways it outclasses US carriers ... and the Japanese

American operates from New York, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, with oneworld partner JAL adding only San Francisco. Onwards from Tokyo, AA has no traffic rights and is fully dependent on JAL for connecting traffic.

United (the new one) adds Newark and Houston to the legacy UA routes from Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu and Seattle. Its partner ANA adds only JFK to the service mix while offering additional flights at most of the other gateways. Unlike American and Delta, United received no Haneda routes when they were parsed out, meaning that all of Star’s HND presence is provided by ANA.

United also has traffic rights out of Tokyo and utilises them to Bangkok, Singapore, Beijing, Seoul and Taipei. The new United also gains significant Japanese presence by the inclusion of the former Continental Micronesia service to Guam.

The United network also currently links more cities in the US with points in China as it operates from multiple US gateways to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. But, as the new flight between Atlanta and Shanghai shows, Delta is in growth mode to China as well.

Delta is third 'Japanese' carrier

In addition to its very substantial Tokyo presence, Delta also makes a good showing at Osaka and Nagoya. Excepting Honolulu, neither of the Japanese carriers has service from either airport to the US mainland and the only other non-Tokyo non-stop is a daily Osaka-San Francisco flight operated by United.

Delta, on the other hand, has a recognisable presence at both airports and, while far smaller than the Tokyo operation, operates a number of uncontested routes .

Osaka to

   

Guam

2 x 757

 

Honolulu

7 x 333

 

Seattle

6 x 767

only service

Nagoya to

   

Detroit

5 x 777

only service

Guam

9 x 757

 

Honolulu

7 x 767

 

Manila

5 x 777

No Japanese

Saipan

7 x 757

only service

Last vestige of an era

The Japanese operations of Delta and United are the last remnants of a regulated environment that at one time had TWA and Pan Am base aircraft at prime European airports such as London and Frankfurt to distribute traffic across the continent, operating with local traffic rights as well.

Up until very recently, the Japanese regulatory authorities refused to alter long-standing agreements, making the maintenance of such fifth freedom services desirable and profitable. Should the Japanese market be further deregulated, the value of such traffic rights may be diminished.

Excellent network, improving service

However, for the present, Delta enjoys a trans-Pacific presence that is unrivaled in that market, and unseen elsewhere. The carrier recognises the region’s importance and has committed resources to improve its presence and image in Asia. In a corporate release regarding Haneda service the airline said that the new, “service is part of Delta's ongoing expansion in Asia, where the airline had the strongest revenue growth of its worldwide network in 2010”.

Up against the best

The carrier also announced that its facilities, service and IT upgrades are intended to make Delta one of Asia’s premium carriers, closing the gap generally seen between US-based carriers and their Asian rivals.

Delta's senior vice president for the Asia Pacific region, Vinay Dube, said that the recent string of profitable quarters have made further product investment possible and that those improvements are key to improving Delta’s image. He noted the new lie-flat seats in BusinessElite and the introduction Economy Comfort as an enhanced offer for coach passengers.

Despite such improvements, the climb into the ranks of Cathay Pacific, Singapore and Thai will be a steep one, as those carriers’ reputations extend far beyond the seating and amenities offered and are more focussed on a service culture that is seen to be absent on US carriers.

Whether or not that goal is achieved, Delta retains a powerful and lucrative presence on the Pacific; and it intends to keep a step ahead of the competition.


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