Thu, Apr 18, 2002 - Page 17 News List

Switch in Japan could hurt CAL

STAFF WRITER , WITH BLOOMBERG

The switch by the nation's carriers to Tokyo's expanded Narita Airport today will contribute to a cut in annual revenue for China Airlines Co (華航) of up to US$50 million and squeeze the number of landing slots for US airlines, according to reports.

Japan's international gateway, 80km from downtown Tokyo, opened 25 years ago with only a single runway because of disputes with local farmers. The new landing strip will be too short for bigger, long-range planes because of the spat.

While capacity will expand with the new runway, the allocation of the new landing slots favors regional carriers serving shorter routes in Asia, cutting the slot share of US airlines to Narita to 30 percent from 34 percent.

However, in switching to Narita from Haneda Airport from today, EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) will see its slots jump from two to 14 per week, while arch rival China Airlines will only gain one extra flight shifting to 22 per week.

EVA and China Airlines are the only international airlines to fly into Haneda due to political pressure from China after Japan switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

The weekly aviation magazine Flight International reported earlier this month that increased competition from domestic rival EVA and other regional airlines along the new Taiwan-Japan route and a reconfigured route between Hong Kong and Taiwan would eat into company revenue.

As a new air deal between Hong Kong and Taiwan is expect to grant EVA up to 35 of the 45 to 49 new flights to the Chinese territory.

China Airlines, which has dominated the route along with Cathay Pacific (國泰), will again see a chunk taken out of its revenue, Flight International reported.

The Hong Kong route accounts for almost 20 percent of China Airlines' profit.

China Airlines won't be the only carrier to feel the effects of expanded capacity at Narita. US airlines are also facing revenue challenges as regional carriers were favored when landing slots were allocated.

``We originally requested two extra slots a day but we only got one, so you can say we aren't satisfied with the result,'' said Hideki Isayama, a spokesman for United Airlines Inc, last month.

United Airlines will emerge with a 7.4 percent share of the slots, or 224 flights a week, after the new runway opens, down from 8.5 percent now.

Northwest Airlines Corp, the biggest of the US carriers flying to Narita, will see its share of slots shrink 2 percentage points to 11 percent, or 350 flights a week.

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