Delta Air Lines is applying to fly from Atlanta to Tokyo's Haneda Airport as it seeks daytime routes to Haneda.
Atlanta-based Delta is seeking a total of three daytime routes to Haneda -- a close-in airport within 30 minutes of central Tokyo -- including the route from Atlanta flown on a Boeing 777-200LR carrying 291 passengers.
Delta is also seeking daytime routes to Haneda from Minneapolis and Los Angeles.
From Atlanta, the airline already flies to Tokyo's Narita Airport, about an hour from central Tokyo. Delta operates a hub at Narita that functions as a gateway for business travelers and others headed to Japan and other parts of Asia.
With its existing Narita route and its application for Haneda service, Delta's overall plans for Atlanta-Tokyo flights are yet to be seen. Delta said its network teams will "finalize our Japan network strategy" after the DOT announces its decision on the Haneda routes.
Delta already flies to Haneda from Los Angeles, with a nighttime route. But airlines say nighttime slots are less appealing to travelers than the daytime slots now being allocated.
Delta was also previously awarded a nighttime slot from Detroit to Haneda, then moved the Detroit slot to Seattle before losing the slot. Delta says the nighttime Seattle-Haneda service "was not commercially viable."
For the coveted daytime slots, Delta told the U.S. Department of Transportation that the Atlanta-Haneda route is its third priority among the three routes, behind Los Angeles as its first preference and Minneapolis as its second.
But what Delta is aiming for is three of the DOT's five daytime slots for U.S. carriers, arguing that such a move would provide competition against United Airlines' Star Alliance and American Airlines' oneworld alliance, which dominate the Haneda market.
The U.S.-Japan aviation agreement that led to the Haneda daytime slots generated ardent opposition from Delta while the deal was being finalized.
Delta had argued that the agreement could threaten the viability of its Narita hub, including its route from Atlanta. It expressed disappointment when the deal was announced.
But as Delta seeks the daytime slots, it said the Atlanta-Haneda route would "result in unsurpassed connectivity and convenience for U.S.-Tokyo Haneda passengers from Delta's Atlanta hub," as the first southeastern U.S. gateway to Haneda Airport.
That would bring new service and options for travelers in Atlanta and throughout the Southeast for those looking to travel to downtown Tokyo, according to Delta.
The airline also touted Hartsfield-Jackson International's amenities, "comfort and convenience" in its application, saying its investments in Atlanta have produced "state-of-the art terminal facilities." Delta also cited its international arrivals and departures on Hartsfield-Jackson's Concourses E and F, "which are easily accessed via an airport tram system."