United Seeks to Be First U.S. Carrier with Nonstop Houston-Tokyo-Haneda Flights

United Airlines has announced its plans to apply for daily nonstop flights between Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport.



November 9, 2023

DALLAS — United Airlines (UA) has announced its plans to apply for daily nonstop flights between Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Tokyo's Haneda Airport (HND). If approved, UA will become the first U.S. carrier to offer this nonstop service, benefiting the rapidly growing population of Houston as well as the 240+ Japanese-affiliated companies and consumers in the Southern U.S. region.

The new flights will connect 64 communities across the Southern U.S. to Haneda, accounting for approximately 575,000 annual Tokyo bookings, or 21% of all U.S. mainland-tokyo demand. This route will bring more balance among major markets while providing increased travel options and flexibility for both business and leisure travelers.

Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances at United Airlines, emphasized the significance of Houston as a vital hub for both business and leisure travel due to its growing population and thriving energy and innovation sectors.

This new service, if approved, will enhance travel options for consumers across the Southern U.S. and strengthen the economic partnership between Japan and the greater Houston area's 240 affiliated businesses.

United Airlines Boeing 777-200 N74007. Photo: Joao Pedro Santoro/Airways
United Airlines Boeing 777-200 N74007. Photo: Joao Pedro Santoro/Airways

Why the Houston-Tokyo Link?

United Airlines says it has been actively developing its Japanese network to promote competition and offer affordable and consistent service options for U.S. travelers. Currently, the airline's Tokyo service covers all seven of the airline's U.S. hubs, with multiple flights to Haneda and Narita airports.

As the largest airline in Houston, United employs over 14,000 people and operates more than 400 daily departures, including over 70 international departures. A recent study by Compass Lexecon revealed that the carrier's hub at Houston's IAH and spending by foreign visitors on United and Star Alliance member flights contribute an estimated US$5.3 billion per year to Texas' gross domestic product.

Another factor is that Houston and the state of Texas have established significant economic ties with Japan. Just last month, the city was chosen as one of seven regional clean hydrogen hubs by the U.S. Department of Energy, with support from Japanese subsidiary Mitsubishi Power Americas.

In total, Japanese-owned companies employ over 70,000 workers in Texas, including 240 Japanese-affiliated companies in Houston. Furthermore, over the past decade, Japanese companies have invested US$6.9 billion in capital and created 19,620 new jobs in Texas, while Texas companies have invested US$799 million and generated 1,667 new jobs in Japan.

The announcement of a future application for IAH-HND flights comes on the heels of UA's expansion in Asia, which includes Hong Kong and Taipei. On October 29, the airline became the first carrier to offer nonstop flights from the Continental U.S. to the Philippines—from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) in Manila.

Featured image: The Boeing 787-10 is the largest variant of the Dreamliner. United operates 21 units at the moment of writing. Photo: Nick Sheeder/Airways