Updated with comment from United
United Airlines has received tentative approval for a new flight between San Francisco International and Tokyo Haneda International airports from the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
The Chicago-based Star Alliance carrier will operate the daily flight on a 268-seat Boeing 777-200 aircraft with service beginning within 180 days of 30 March – by about 26 September – according to a decision by the regulator on 28 February. The airline plans to use a 219-seat Boeing 787-8 on the route once an aircraft becomes available.
The DOT selected United over a proposal by Hawaiian Airlines for a new flight between Kona and Haneda. The regulator cites the addition of a new US carrier at the Tokyo airport, enhanced competition between San Francisco and Tokyo, enhanced competition between gateways on the US west coast and increased benefits to the travelling public in its tentative decision.
“We tentatively find that the benefits to the travelling public of United’s proposal outweigh the potential benefits associated with Hawaiian’s proposal,” the DOT says.
Hawaiian operates once daily between its Honolulu base and Tokyo Haneda.
“We thank the US Department of Transportation for creating the opportunity for United to be the third US carrier with access to Haneda airport in downtown Tokyo," says United. "We look forward to completing the approval process with the DOT."
United and Hawaiian applied for the frequency in November 2013, following a disclosure by American Airlines that it would return the frequency to the DOT that December. The Fort Worth, Texas-based Oneworld alliance carrier used it to operate a flight between New York JFK and Tokyo Haneda.
United already flies between San Francisco and Tokyo Narita International airport.