This discussion is quite interesting indeed and I am excited about the outcome, I do however have to wonder...
With Delta wanting flexibility in its existing routes, and AA wanting flexibility in its China authorities, and everyone getting all up in arms about "the public good" of these assets. What is the public good?
It isn't like these HND flights have printed money in any market. Can you get from anywhere in the US to HND with a connection? Of course! Is there competition for that? Of course! So how much better off is the public if AA flies DFW-HND or DL flies MSP-HND? Unless you live in DFW or MSP, I would say that it is a wash. Does UA flying IAH-HND provide a noticeable improvement over a second DFW-HND on AA? Probably not.
While there is a lot of history of airlines making requests of the DOT and such, I don't think that matters. The DOT might say it does, but I doubt it plays too much into their decision to award flights because in the end it is mostly a wash and so they will pick the routes that are "best" for the public.
After reading this thread and the other one about DLs request and some other things about AA and China, it is amazing to me how many people disregard the JVs that AA and UA have. These are government approved collusion (which is fine in my opinion). If the DOT doesn't give DL 5/6 at minimum, I would be shocked. Remember these are airlines arguing over who gets to fly where, not passengers arguing about who is flying the route (that would a free market, not what we have here).
If DL can't make terrible hours work on SEA-HND, that isn't DLs fault that is the DOTs fault but that doesn't mean that DL should loose anything, it isn't as if the public is loosing something by DL not flying the route, if there was significant public out cry, DL would have enough passengers to fill the plane. Moving the flight to LAX on AA, might mean more people fly from LAX to HND on AA, but that doesn't mean more people will fly from the US to TYO. I doubt AA is going to offer lower fares out of kindness.
IF the DOT wants to make things as competitive as possible, they should take the what 5+12 slots and allocate them so that each competitor (JVs are counted together because they don't compete, Codeshares are counted seperately, because they do compete) and split them so that each competitor has roughly the same number of flights and airlines should be able to operate them from where ever they choose as long as they operate them. The DOT should really negotiate with the Japanese government due to the fact that Japan and the US both agreed to the JVs so I don't see how the 33 slots (by my count, please correct if I am wrong) shouldn't be split evenly between the JVs and any other carrier that would like to operate them, but that is unlikely
Here is my rough math:
8 - JL
8 - NH
8 - DL (DL only asked for 8, I would give them 10, one each from AA, and UA)
2 - HA (JL)
3 - AA (JL)
4 - UA (NH)
The airlines can operate them to whichever hubs/cities they see fit. Because if you force AA to operate LAS-HND with a 788, when they could change that flight to DFW-HND with a 77W, you are robbing the public of 25,000+ seats per year into HND, and we know from economics less supply, means higher prices.
Same thing applies to China, you get the slots, you operate the flights, from where ever you can as long as you are operating them, if you can't operate them, and someone else wants them, then you loose them. The new carrier gets the same flexibility.
I have ranted a bit here so thank you for reading this far. I do really enjoy these discussions, even the sometimes heated exchanges
One mile of highway gets you one mile, one mile of runway gets you anywhere.