Well Delta is quite low on my list of respected companies and they don't seem to be doing themselves any favors in the recent past. At one point the CEO of Delta even said that Middle East airlines were part of the 9/11 attacks. So, when Delta came out this week and threatened to pull out of the Tokyo market in an effort to strong arm the governments of both USA and Japan, it should have been no surprise to us.
The issue here is the expansion of international flights at Tokyo Haneda airport. Narita is the current go to airport for international flights. Travelling from Narita to the city of Tokyo can take up to 90 min though and for those flying to Tokyo and not connecting, the Haneda airport just outside of Tokyo is the much preferred option. This does benefit the other US airlines. Both American and United have alliances with airlines based out of Japan. American Airlines partners with Japan Airlines, while United partners with All Nippon Airways (ANA). Haneda would act as a great connection airport to regional flights that tend to depart from Haneda more than Narita airport.
Delta has made efforts in the past to partner with other Japanese airlines, but have failed thus far. So their fear isn't without merit, that connection traffic through Haneda would benefit American and United over Delta. However, Delta operates a hub of sorts out of Narita and has their own connections to make through that airport. So what is Delta complaining about?
Well it seems that Delta's argument is that flying through Haneda is more of an edge for the other airline sthan it is with Delta. While the argument isn't invalid, this is also the way business works. Either Delta can make Haneda work for them, or they figure out a different way to operate. Why are they not complaining that American having a hub in Philadelphia gives an advantage to American in the Philadelphia market? The argument they are making could fly in almost every major market in the United States. Just because Delta has been unable to find a partner to make connections in Haneda, doesn't mean the other airlines shouldn't have the chance to make passengers lives easier.
Really on the surface of it, seems to me like Delta is making arguments like a 5 year old and hoping that flies with authorities. Here's to hoping that the agencies involved here don't get dissuaded by Delta's poor argument. I for one would love the direct access when I eventually visit Tokyo.