The Transportation Department has decided to allow Delta to transfer one of its two routes to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport from Detroit to Seattle.

Delta, which also flies to Haneda from Los Angeles, requested the move earlier this year, claiming that the service from its Detroit hub was “underperforming.” It proposes to serve the Seattle route with 767 aircraft.

Delta was one of three U.S. airlines granted new access to Haneda in 2010, and was the only carrier to receive two routes. American was authorized to serve New York and Hawaiian to serve Honolulu.

The Haneda routes are valuable because Haneda is nine miles from central Tokyo, whereas Narita (the airport that accommodates most of Tokyo's international service) is 40 miles from the city center.

American and Hawaiian, along with United, protested Delta’s attempt to move the route award to Seattle and filed competing proposals.

The DOT, after reviewing the objections, sided with Delta. The DOT said that giving Seattle access to Tokyo via Haneda would serve the public interest by creating a new travel option and “open Haneda access to a new region of the country.”

The DOT’s ruling is a tentative decision that will be acted upon after a final exchange of public comments, which are due Nov. 26.

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