Klobuchar, McCollum, and Minnesota Delegation Urge Department of Transportation to Consider Application for Service Between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

May 13, 2016

  

WASHINGTON, DC –Today, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, and the Minnesota congressional delegation urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to consider Delta Air Lines’ application for service between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. In a bipartisan letter to Secretary Foxx, the Minnesota lawmakers highlighted the importance of access to the growing Asian markets for Minnesota businesses and travelers, including the 17 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Minnesota.

“We write to urge full and fair consideration of Delta Air Lines’ application for a daytime slot pair allowing for service between Haneda Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport,” the lawmakers wrote. “Access to growing Asian markets is particularly important to Minnesota businesses, including the 17 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in our state. In addition, the connecting traffic will strengthen MSP as an international hub and leverage the existing transportation infrastructure and vibrant aviation sector in the Twin Cities.”

The full text of the letter the lawmakers sent is below:

Dear Secretary Foxx:

We write to urge full and fair consideration of Delta Air Lines’ application for a daytime slot pair allowing for service between Haneda Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). 

Earlier this year, we wrote to express our concern that a limited opening of Haneda Airport could make the current route between MSP and Narita International Airport economically unsustainable. We noted that the MSP to Narita route is the only direct flight between Minnesota and Asia. Given the new bilateral aviation agreement with Japan, allowing service between MSP and Haneda is now imperative to maintaining Minnesota’s connection to Asia.

Access to growing Asian markets is particularly important to Minnesota businesses, including the 17 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in our state. In 2015 employees from just 25 businesses in Minnesota took more than 10,000 flights from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Tokyo. Minnesota competes to attract businesses by creating a positive business climate based on good governance, a strong workforce and world-class infrastructure. Losing the only nonstop flight connection to Asia would damage Minnesota’s competitiveness.

Delta’s proposal to use MSP as a hub to connect 114 U.S. cities to Haneda will have benefits in Minnesota and beyond.  Many Midwestern communities will also benefit from shorter flight times compared to alternative hubs. In addition, the connecting traffic will strengthen MSP as an international hub and leverage the existing transportation infrastructure and vibrant aviation sector in the Twin Cities.

Ensuring Minnesota receives a new daytime slot pair is also essential for maintaining a competitive balance in the transpacific market. Currently, robust competition among three global alliances facilitates consumer choice and puts downward pressure on airfares. The limited opening of Haneda Airport has the potential to upset this balance as American Airlines and United Airlines currently control 79 percent of the global Haneda Airport market in conjunction with their Japanese partner airlines.

Thank you for your attention to our views.  We look forward to working with you on this important issue. 

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