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Posts tagged JAL


This post may seem premature and to be clear, I have no inside information from Delta or the Port of Portland. This is simply a hypothesis.

With Delta’s newly announced joint venture with Korean Air it is becoming more and more likely that the Delta hub at Tokyo’s Narita Airport will be dismantled. For me it means that a great non-stop option to Tokyo PDX-NRT, will likely go away, or at least become Portland to Seoul.

But I am with Cranky Flier on his analysis.

This may be sad for those who liked having elevated service to Tokyo, but the vast majority of people, this new Korean relationship will be far more valuable. At the same time, Delta can continue to develop its relationship with China Eastern to further penetrate the Chinese market. China will likely become the most important air market in the world over time. While there are joint venture issues since the US and China don’t have open skies yet, Delta is now incredibly well positioned with both Korean and China Eastern offering tremendous penetration. Meanwhile, for American, China has been one of the most vexing problems, so it decided to do something about it.

As nice as having a non-stop option to Tokyo is, having a one-stop option to all over Asia is even better. The current Delta connections out of Narita are varied (Manila, Singapore, Bangkok, etc.) but mean that the airline has to dedicate aircraft and crews to a hub halfway across the world. Back in say the 1970s and 80s and really even into the 90s, having a hub in Tokyo made a lot of sense for airlines. Interline agreements, joint ventures, and airline alliances did not exist so if an airline wanted to carry passengers from a hub to a far off destination they needed all of their own resources available along the way. Today that model has changed. Airlines are leveraging partnerships to get passengers to destinations where they do not themselves fly. Delta, disappointed with the lack of Tokyo-Haneda slots that have been given out, is smart to reallocate the planes that currently fly in and out of Tokyo-Narita to places where it makes more sense (read, money).

While I will be sad to see a historic route go away, I love the idea of connecting in Seoul for other places in Asia. The airport is laid out well and Korean Air has a good reputation.

The unanswered question is, will a Japanese carrier like ANA or Japan Airlines approach PDX to offer a non-stop option to Narita or Haneda. With the new partnership between Alaska Airlines and Japan Airlines, there is a case to be made that a Japan Airlines flight is a no-brainer. But my fondness of United and the Star Alliance would really love seeing an ANA 787 parked at PDX offering a non-stop to Haneda.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400 "Combi"
In the exciting or “happy to hear it” news department, Alaska Airlines and Japan Airlines announced a partnership this morning. The partnership will start on June 29, 2016 and will allow customers to earn miles on each carrier and other partner benefits. However, the press release does not go into detail on earning rates or the redemption rates, but it’s clear from Alaska’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer, Andrew Harrison, that those details are coming.

“For the first time, our members will be able to earn and redeem miles within Japan, taking advantage of 600 daily flights on JAL’s broad domestic network.”

I have always thought that Japan was a gap for Alaska Airlines. You could fly Delta or American but in a lot of cases it required a connection, sometimes two. The Japan Airlines partnership opens up a number of California non-stops into Japan. There is also the Japan Airlines flight from Vancouver, B.C. though that means going through Canadian transit immigration. In any case, I am excited about not having to overfly Japan to just fly back on Cathay Pacific. This partnership also opens up a bunch of connections out of Tokyo. Off the top of my head it makes parts of China, Japan, and some southeast Asia destinations really easy to reach.

Alaska Airlines continues to impress me with their growth and planning, let’s hope it carries into the merger with Virgin America.