The latest round of route announcements by Japan’s major airlines includes the notable return of a domestic trunk service that was previously squeezed out by competition from high-speed rail.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) are both boosting flights from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, although JAL also cut flights from elsewhere in its network. Most of the changes will be effective from Oct. 26, and will apply to their schedules for the second half of the fiscal year.
ANA is adding a new route from Tokyo Haneda to Nagoya’s Chubu Centrair Airport using Boeing 737-800s. The carrier last operated this route in 1982, although at that time it used Komaki Airport in Nagoya since Centrair had not yet been built.
The flight was suspended due to the challenge of the Shinkansen bullet trains, which can travel between Nagoya and Tokyo in 1 hr. 40 min. Many relatively short domestic routes have come under pressure from the Shinkansen trains, as they offer extremely high frequency on trunk lines such as Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka.
The reason the flights are being resumed on this route is not to compete with the trains for commuter traffic, but to offer convenient connections to international flights at Haneda. Thanks to recent expansion at Haneda, ANA has increased its international services at what used to be a domestic airport. The airline already operates flights from Nagoya to Tokyo Narita Airport, which is still the major international airport in Tokyo.
As well as the new Nagoya service, ANA has added three more daily frequencies to existing domestic routes from Haneda. It has also added three daily frequencies to routes from Fukuoka. On the international side, ANA is changing aircraft types on a number of routes, and also cut back its flights from Narita to Chengdu, China from daily to 4X-weekly.
JAL, meanwhile, added two daily frequencies to domestic routes from Haneda. It also cut four daily frequencies from its Fukuoka network.
Another notable change is its suspension of flights between Narita and Okinawa’s Naha Airport. This is one of the routes currently served by both JAL and its low-cost joint venture Jetstar Japan. Codeshare flights on the Jetstar Japan service will still be offered to passengers from Naha connecting to JAL international flights at Narita.
JAL will continue to offer multiple daily flights between Haneda and Naha, operated by mainline aircraft as well as its JAL Express and Japan Transocean Air subsidiaries.