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Japan Airlines contests Tokyo Haneda slot allocation

7-Oct-2013 7:15 AM

Japan Airlines, labeling the MLITT allocation of international slots at Tokyo Haneda from FY2014 as "inequitable", submitted (04-Oct-2013) documents entitled “The proposal for rectification etc. and request for disclosure of administrative documents” to the MLITT and the Director-General of Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB). The carrier requested a formal review of the decision after receiving five slots compared to ANA's 11, explaining: "Although we have requested an even allocation of international flight slots between 2 Japanese international flights operators, we received only 5 slots (United Kingdom, France, China (Beijing), Singapore, and Thailand) out of total 16 slots, which have already been confirmed to be allocated to Japanese carriers. We sincerely regret that we are unable to accept the allocation, as it is unfair and harms passenger convenience and benefit to the national interest". The carrier also noted: "MLITT states as the reason for the allocation that MLITT intends to restrainedly make judgment on the expansion of new routes, other than new routes explicitly described in the JAL Group’s mid-term management plan (FY2012-FY2016), and the allocation will be determined based on whether the given new routes, would meet the criteria. However, MLIT did not specifically explain why new criteria have been abruptly established, why newly established routes at Haneda Airport might impede or skew an appropriate competitive environment". While stating the allocation "diverges greatly from an even allocation", JAL said it "strongly request for the even allocation since we believe there is no justification for this decision". The carrier added: "Concurrently, we need to analyse how MLITT had been discussing the allocation and the reason for the decision mentioned above. Therefore, we request MLITT to explain concrete reasons and details of the discussion". JAL also requested the MLITT disclose the following administrative documents:

  • Any minutes, documents, or pictures, and electromagnetic record regarding the process of discussion on the allocation of Haneda Airport’s International Flight Slot;
  • Any documents, drawings or pictures, and electromagnetic record created in the process of discussion on the allocation of Haneda Airport’s International Flight Slots;
  • With regard to the allocation of Haneda Aiport’s International Flight Slots:
    • Any documents, pictures, and electromagnetic record MLITT received from third party;
    • Any documents, pictures, and electromagnetic record MLITT provided to third party.

The carrier also outlined the following questions to Japan's MLITT:

  • Maximisation of passenger convenience: Did MLITT evaluate that the announced allocation, rather than the even allocation, contribute to maximize passenger convenience? If so, what is the reason for the evaluation?;
  • Competition among the global alliances: Did MLITT consider the impact of the allocation on the competition among the global alliances? If so, please state the detail of the impact MLITT considered;
  • Judgment with Ex-post restraint: MLITT mentioned in the allocation policy that MLITT intends to restrainedly make judgment on the expansion of new routes, other than new routes explicitly described in the JAL Group’s mid-term management plan (FY2012-FY2016). However, this is different from the stand point shown in the statement in the Statement by the Civil Aviation Bureau on August 10, 2012, where it is only stated that” during the period of JAL’s mid-term management plan, in order to confirm that the competitive environment is not being unevenly skewed, the Civil Aviation Bureau will, periodically or to the extent necessary, request reports from JAL regarding its investment and route expansion plans and monitor the status of such plans.” The carrier also quested: Why did MLITT adopt such further restraints at this stage? Did MLITT consider how such additional restraints would affect the competition? If so, please state the detail of the consideration;
  • Restriction standards on establishing new routes: From a competition standpoint and volatility in supply and demand environment, it is very difficult to clearly determine the route network for long-term plan ; thus, in practice, it is impossible to explicitly state planned new routes in our mid-term management Plan for 2012-2016. Please state the reason why MLITT established the criteria to make restrained judgment on the expansion of new routes, other than new routes explicitly described in the JAL Group’s mid-term management plan'
  • Definition of “unevenly skewed competitive environment”: The allocation policy states that MLITT will determine whether the competitive environment is unevenly skewed. Please specifically explain the implication of “unevenly skewed competitive environment.”
  • Presence and magnitude of “unevenly skewed competitive environment”: Does MLITT judge the current competitive environment is “unevenly skewed ”? If so, please quantify the magnitude of the “uneven skew on the competitive environment”.[more - original PR]