International service at Haneda after the opening of the fourth runway in autumn 2010 is now coming to fruition as Singapore Airlines has been awarded fourteen weekly flights by Singapore’s Air Traffic Rights Committee (ATRC).
The new flights will complement the current twice-daily Tokyo Narita services, one of which continues on to Los Angeles.
Singapore Airlines will be relying on growth in demand for travel between Japan and Singapore. There will undoubtedly be a shift in travel patterns, with the majority of business third and fourth freedom traffic moving to Haneda, together with a significant amount of third and fourth freedom leisure traffic, if not all originating from Singapore moving to the new Haneda services.
The additional capacity can also be utilised by taking advantage of the extensive domestic connections at Haneda with its Star Alliance partner All Nippon Airways, taking care not to damage the performance of the airlines existing non-stop flights from Fukuoka, Nagoya, and Osaka.
With Haneda the undoubted preferred Tokyo gateway, the challenge will be to utilise all the capacity operated to and from Narita. Stimulating new demand from Eastern Tokyo and surrounding prefectures, together with connecting more sixth freedom traffic over Narita will be the challenge.
The strengthening of Singapore Airlines competitive position in Japan is well timed as both Etihad and Emirates prepare to introduce service to Tokyo at Narita.
Singapore as a destination will derive a competitive advantage over other Asian destinations, helping to fuel the required growth in demand.
Finally, Narita will have to be creative in working to support their Singapore Airlines’ services if they are to retain them in the medium term and not see them downsized.
Many interesting dynamics all coming into play. Singapore Airlines has been able to make an early move, will Cathay Pacific be able to follow. An interesting twelve months ahead of service announcements awaits is my guess, as airlines and countries position themselves to maximise the opportunities at Haneda and expand their Tokyo operations.