British Airways has inaugurated a new service between Tokyo Haneda Airport and London Heathrow amid growing calls for openness between the two markets.
At present Haneda United States and European airlines are limited to departure and arrival slots between 22:00 and 07:00 – limiting competitiveness.
This has prompted David Howell, minister of state at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to call for liberalisation in Japan.
“I think it is true to say we would like to see a lot more flights,” explained Mr Howell after landing in Japan on the inaugural flight.
“If we had full open skies and slots during the day, then I think even more flights would be in and out of Haneda and back to London.”
Haneda began regular scheduled international flights in October 2009, offering competition to the existing international hub, Narita Airport.
British Airways joined calls for greater access.
Jamie Cassidy, British Airways’ general manager for the Asia Pacific region, explained: “It is very difficult, because of curfews at the other end of loops, to make flights work.
“The partial opening of Haneda to international traffic is a huge step forward of Haneda’s service, bringing great benefits to both business and leisure travellers/
“We would like to work closely with the Japanese authorities to bring about further liberalisation in the aviation sector, and even greater choice and benefits to our customers,” he added.