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Four slots awarded to competing carriers

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 9, 2010) - Continental Airlines and its wholly owned subsidiary Continental Micronesia's application for a slot to fly between Guam and Tokyo's Haneda International Airport has taken a setback.

The U.S Transportation department's announcement yesterday of the four U.S. airlines that will likely get slots at the highly sought-after Haneda airport doesn't include Continental Airlines or Continental Micronesia.

In a "show-cause" order, the Transportation Department (DOT) proposed to grant the four Haneda slots to: Hawaiian Airlines for service from Honolulu; Delta Airlines for service from Los Angeles and another service to Detroit; and American Airlines for service from New York's JFK Airport.

United and Continental, which both recently announced merger plans, did not make it to the list.

Continental Airlines had proposed a Newark-Haneda service as well.

Guam's visitors industry had been hoping to get a Guam-Haneda service because Haneda's close proximity to busy parts of Tokyo would make travel to Guam more ideal for Tokyo-based tourists.

Currently, tourists wanting to visit Guam from Tokyo need to take a train or bus to Narita International Airport to catch a flight to Guam.

The Transportation Department announced giving Hawaiian a Haneda slot "would add a new competitor to the U.S.-Tokyo market."

Hawaiian currently does not serve Japan, according to the Transportation Department.

If the proposed decision is made final, the Transportation Department said the airlines that receive the slots must begin flights by Jan. 29 next year.

Continental announced in March it made "the best case for the route awards."

"DOT should award Continental's proposal to operate daily New York/Newark-Haneda flights and Continental Micronesia's proposal to operate daily Guam-Haneda flights in order to maximize the consumer benefits of the recent successful efforts to open the skies over Japan," according to a Continental statement on March 10.

"Valuable limited entry rights should be awarded to the applications that benefit the most U.S. consumers, rather than to airlines which already dominate the market and/or to airlines which propose to serve significantly smaller markets and markets that provide few connection opportunities to Tokyo Haneda. The Continental and Continental Micronesia applications provide these benefits and should be selected before any other proposal," Continental Airlines stated at the time.

Continental and Continental Micronesia's proposals generated more than 12,000 letters of support, including from Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, Gov. Felix Camacho, and Agat Mayor Carol S. Tayama.

The United States negotiated the Haneda slots as part of its open-skies agreement with Japan.

The airlines that didn't get the slots have 10 days from yesterday to file objections, and those airlines that answer those objections get seven days to make their case according to the Transportation Department.

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