27 December 2009

"Open Skies" for Japan; what does it mean for China adoption travel?

With announcement of the US-Japan accord to allow full air carrier access and deregulated pricing between both countries, action is already underway to reshape codeshare arrangements, joint fares and scheduling, and even possible investment in financially-troubled Japan Airlines. Tokyo's close-in Haneda Airport, which has been restricted to domestic and limited regional service, may also soon see nonstops from North America.

While this development has the potential to bring US-Japan service levels up and fares down - as we've seen between the US and Europe - what if any impact does it hold for the adoption traveler trying to get home from Guangzhou, China?

At weninchina.com, I've just updated the Planning Transpacific Flights article to reflect options available for Winter 2010. The loss of Northwest's morning nonstop from Guangzhou to Tokyo-Narita has complicated the process of selecting airlines and flights for adoption travelers to be sure, but other options have started to gel, including the growth of Beijing as a gateway for the Star Alliance carriers, and the rise of Seoul-Incheon as an excellent hub between Asia and North America.

What has surprised me in researching the available flights this season is the complete lack of connecting options out of Guangzhou to North America via Tokyo. Just one year ago this was the primary route home. Today, even though there are three daily nonstops between these two airports, none of them are timed to connect onward to ANY flights to the US mainland or Canada.

If the United-Continental-All Nippon (ANA) transpacific joint venture is approved, what I'd like to see right away is for the 9:15 am All Nippon departure from Guangzhou to Tokyo moved up by two hours. This would allow that flight to easily connect to the entire eastbound bank of United, Continental, and Air Canada departures. (The aircraft which flies this route sits overnight at the gate in Guangzhou, so it's not going to be too much of a hassle.) This one step would restore virtually all of the same-day two-connection possibilities between Guangzhou and North America that were lost when Northwest pulled out in February 2009.

ANA has stated they want big growth in 2010 from international service and alliance opportunities. Sounds like this would be an easy first step, and would make life a lot easier for hundreds of families.