ATLANTA TheStreet) -- Delta ( DAL - Get Report) was the big winner Friday in the U.S. Transportation Department's tentative selection of carriers to serve Tokyo Haneda airport, gaining authority to serve both Los Angeles and Detroit. American ( AMR) received authority to fly from New York Kennedy, while Hawaiian ( HA - Get Report) won rights from Honolulu, in the ruling announced Friday. Applicants Continental ( CAL - Get Report) and United ( UAUA) got nothing. The ruling made no mention of the two carriers' plan to merge, announced Monday. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll However, in its discussion of its selection of American at Kennedy, the DOT said that American's Oneworld alliance is third in the Asian market, trailing both Star and Skyteam. "An award of Haneda rights to American here should enhance alliance competition," the ruling said. "Selection of American's New York proposal provides the benefit of head-to-head competition with the Narita services offered at JFK by Skyteam member Delta and Star member ANA." Continental's request for a Newark-Haneda route was rejected. The department had four routes to award to Haneda. The ruling indicated that its intent was to select, within each region of the country, the route that would most likely increase competition. Haneda service will be allowed under usually harsh restrictions that permit flights only between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., with no departures to the U.S. before midnight, apparently in an attempt to preserve the supremacy of Tokyo Narita Airport as Asia's primary hub. Additionally, Japanese carriers All Nippon Airways, a Star member, and Oneworld member Japan Air Lines each were awarded two routes of their choosing, which have not been announced. Both have sought trans-Pacific antitrust immunity with U.S. partners, which is expected to be approved. On the West Coast, the DOT chose Los Angeles, which has the most local traffic to Japan of any mainland U.S. city. It said Delta proposed using the largest aircraft, a Boeing 747, enabling the most passengers to fly. It rejected Delta's request for Seattle, American's request for Los Angeles and United's request for San Francisco, even though San Francisco is the largest hub on the West Coast. United, however, wanted to serve a smaller market with a smaller aircraft, the Boeing 777, the department said. In the Midwest, the DOT said, "Detroit has proven for decades to be a strong hub for Japan and Asia services, and is well-situated geographically to maximize connecting services." Also, "both Michigan and Ohio have extensive industrial relationships with Japanese companies," the DOT said.
As for the Honolulu selection, DOT noted that Hawaiian would be a new entrant in the Japan market, and that Hawaii-Japan is the largest U.S.-Japan market. Although the traffic is primarily tourism-oriented, tourism is essential to Hawaii's economy, the DOT said, in rejecting a request by Continental for Guam-Haneda route. -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.