US Carriers Eye Further Japanese Recovery

Credit: Joe Pries

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are each adding flights between Los Angeles (LAX) and Tokyo Haneda (HND) in anticipation of Japan easing travel restrictions.

The country reopened its borders to international travelers in June but imposed a series of conditions that has meant tourist arrivals since then have remained low. However, there are signs that the Japanese government is beginning to loosen these requirements.

From Oct. 29, both American and United have filed plans to serve Haneda from LAX. American will offer a 2X-daily route using Boeing 787-8 aircraft having last operated the sector nonstop in April 2021, OAG data shows.

On the same day, United will start its long-awaited LAX-HND service. The Star Alliance member originally intended to launch the route in March 2020 but the plans were delayed because of the pandemic. Flights will be daily using 787-9.

On Oct. 30, Delta will also resume flights between the destinations. Service will initially be 3X-weekly using Airbus A330-900 aircraft, before moving to daily from Dec. 1.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) are currently the sole operators of LAX-HND flights, serving the sector 10X-weekly and 7X-weekly respectively. Tokyo Narita (NRT) is also served from LAX by JAL 9X-weekly and 7X-weekly by ANA, Singapore Airlines, United and Zipair Tokyo.

In addition, Delta will start a new daily service between Honolulu (HNL) and Haneda on Dec. 1—another route launch that was delayed due to the pandemic. Flights will be daily onboard 767-300ERs.

The resumptions and new services come as hopes grow that Japan will continue to ease its COVID-related travel restrictions, which are among the strictest in the world.

In March 2020 the country suspended is visa exemption program—which had allowed US citizens to travel to Japan without first obtaining a visa—and barred most international travel for the following two years.

However, in March 2022 Japan began to allow entry for short-term business or employment purposes and in June allowed foreign nationals to enter for leisure travel, so long as they do so as part of an authorized travel group.

Despite this, options for individual visitors remain limited and all international travelers must still receive a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of departure.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.