Friday, January 29, 2010

DOT to Allocate Scarce Haneda Slots

The Department of Transportation has initiated slot allocation proceedings for Japan's congested Haneda Airport in Tokyo.  See 2010 U.S.-Haneda Combination Services Allocation Proceeding, Order Instituting Proceeding and Inviting Applications, Dkt. No. OST-2010-0018 (Jan. 26, 2010).  From the order:

On December 11, 2009, the United States and Japan initialed the text of a Memoranda of Understanding that following signature will, among other things, make available to US air carriers four daily pairs of slots for scheduled combination services at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport, when Haneda’s fourth runway becomes operational. Under the terms of the 2009 MOU, scheduled operations between the United States and Haneda will be subject to the following conditions: (1) US operations at Haneda will be permitted between 2200 and 0700 hours local time; (2) departures from Haneda to a point in the 48 contiguous US states are not permitted prior to midnight; and (3) extra sections are not permitted.

Id. at 1.

Though the MOU is being touted as the equivalent to an open skies agreement, the proceeding evidences the tight controls which remain on Tokyo airport access--controls which frustrate the open gateways feature of the open skies template.  Cf. In the Matter of Defining Open Skies, 3 Av. L. Rep. (CCH) ¶ 26,960, at 23,901 (Aug. 5, 1991).  The Japanese Government could improve the slot allocation process by instituting open and transparent market mechanisms such as secondary slot trading and auctions.  Both avenues would help ensure that scarce slots were placed into the hands of airlines which valued them the most.  As it stands, the U.S./Japan MOU's slot allocation provision retains an illiberal managed trade approach to airline market access.

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