Discount Carriers To Use Haneda, With Peach Aviation Leading Way As Early As Summer

Discount carriers to use Haneda, with Peach Aviation leading way as early as summerPeach Aviation Ltd. will likely be the first domestic low-cost carrier to operate international flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport, limited to the late-night through early morning time slot.

Transport minister Akihiro Ota said in a news conference after a Cabinet meeting Jan. 16 that the ministry will accept applications to use the off-peak slots from LCCs to "make the most of the airport in the Tokyo metropolitan area."

Peach Aviation has been preparing for the launch of late-night flights from Haneda to Taipei as early as this summer.

Flights under the system will be limited to international routes between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., when many arrival and departure slots are free.

The new policy is aimed at luring visitors from overseas by taking advantage of these slots. Landings and takeoffs are close to capacity during the day.

Haneda Airport is currently used by six domestic airlines, including All Nippon Airways Co., the nation's largest airline, but not by LCCs.

The launch of budget carrier services at the airport, which is situated close to central Tokyo, will increase options for passengers, likely fueling price competition.

The ministry's policy has been to allow major airlines with many business-travel customers to use Haneda Airport, and LCCs, which are mainly used by tourists, to operate out of Narita Interntional Airport in Chiba Prefecture. Though there are no laws prohibiting LCCs from using Haneda, no LCCs have applied for a slot to use the facility, according to the ministry.

A major barrier has been the relatively high landing fee paid by airlines to use the airport. It is about 1.4 times that of Narita.

To address this, the ministry decided last November to cut Haneda landing fees in half for the first year of service for airlines that operate international flights late at night. The fee for the second year of service would be reduced by 30 percent. Peach Aviation is expected to use this system.