*For all press release inquiries, please reach out to Theresa Meyer (Theresa.Meyer@mail.house.gov)

WASHINGTON, DC – Following efforts from the Minnesota congressional delegation, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced it will grant nonstop service between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). In May, the Minnesota lawmakers sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary Foxx highlighting the importance of access to the growing Asian markets for Minnesota businesses and travelers, including the 17 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Minnesota, and urged DOT to consider Delta Air Lines’ application for service between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and MSP.   

“As chair of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, I know how important travel and tourism are to the economy of Minnesota,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “Access to the growing Asian markets are particularly important to Minnesota businesses, and why I led efforts with my Minnesota colleagues to ensure that our state continues to have direct access to Asia. Today’s announcement that MSP and Tokyo’s more convenient Haneda Airport will be connected by nonstop flights is great news for Minnesota’s economy and those traveling to and from our state.”

“Businesses in Minnesota rely on MSP to bring jobs to our state and strengthen our local economy,” said Senator Al Franken. “And families rely on MSP to visit unique places all around the world. We fought hard to open Haneda Airport to nonstop service between Tokyo and Minnesota because it will help promote economic growth and expand tourism opportunities. This is a good day for our state.” 

“This announcement creates a direct link between Minnesota and Tokyo,” said Representative Collin Peterson. “This new service will better connect Minnesota businesses with those in Tokyo and provide new opportunities for growth in Minnesota.”

“I am very pleased that Secretary Foxx has agreed with the Minnesota delegation and granted nonstop service between MSP and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport,” said Representative Betty McCollum. “This essential airline service will help forge even stronger connections between Minnesota and Japan, particularly Minnesota businesses that are working to succeed in Asian markets. Overall, this is great news for our Twin Cities region.”

“I am pleased the Department of Transportation has announced it will grant Delta Air Lines’ application for nonstop flights between MSP and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport,” said Representative Tim Walz. “Increasing access to developing markets is critical for the continued growth of Minnesota’s businesses. This is certainly a win for our state’s economy and those traveling between the two locations.”

“This is tremendous news for MSP and our Minnesota businesses,” said Representative Rick Nolan. “During my discussion with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx regarding this matter, I emphasized the importance of this decision. Nonstop service between Haneda Airport and MSP will allow Minnesota business travelers to efficiently conduct business across the globe.”

“Minnesota businesses are some of the most enterprising and innovative in the world, and the new direct service to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport will present more opportunities for them to thrive,” said Representative Erik Paulsen. “I’m very proud to see this bipartisan effort yield such a positive result for Minnesota businesses and jobs.”

“Trade and travel are critical to Minnesota’s economy and securing daytime slots from MSP to Haneda ensures that Minnesota businesses will remain at the forefront of the global economy,” said Representative Tom Emmer. “I’m proud to have worked so closely with the entire delegation advocating for our Minnesota companies and workers.”

The full text of the letter the lawmakers sent in May 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.