United Airlines announced that it has applied to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) for daily nonstop flights between Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. United will be the first U.S. carrier to offer nonstop service between Houston and Haneda if approved. This new route will serve the rapidly growing Houston region’s population, 240+ Japanese-affiliated companies, and customers residing in areas across the Southern United States.
The flights will connect 64 cities in the Southern United States to Haneda, accounting for about 575,000 annual Tokyo bookings, or 21% of total U.S. mainland – Tokyo demand. While Houston has only one international airline flight to Haneda, New York/Newark has five, Los Angeles has seven, Chicago has three, and Washington, D.C. and Dallas/Fort Worth have two. This new route will increase market parity while providing needed seats and flexibility to business and leisure travellers.
“Between its steadily growing population and booming energy and innovation sectors, the Houston area has transformed into a critical hub for business and leisure travel,” said Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President of Global Network Planning and Alliances at United Airlines. “If awarded by the DOT, this new service will enhance travel options to Tokyo Haneda for consumers across the Southern United States and strengthen the economic partnership between Japan and more than 240 affiliated businesses in the greater Houston area.”
United has worked diligently to develop a Japanese network to promote competition and provide affordable and consistent service options for U.S. travellers while operating the world’s largest route network of any U.S. airline. United’s Tokyo service now comprises several flights from the airline’s seven U.S. hubs to Haneda and Narita airports.
United is Houston’s largest airline, with over 14,000 employees, over 400 daily departures, and over 70 international daily departures. According to a new Compass Lexecon study, United’s Huston hub and foreign visitor spending on United and Star Alliance member flights support an estimated $5.3 billion in gross domestic product in Texas each year, and United’s direct employment in Houston contributed $1.2 billion to economic activity in 2022.
Houston is a significant commercial hub for health care, manufacturing, and, most notably, the energy sector. Houston and the state of Texas have built significant economic ties with Japan due to their status as an energy powerhouse. The U.S. Department of Energy recently chose Houston as one of seven regional clean hydrogen hubs in collaboration with Japanese company Mitsubishi Power Americas.
Approximately 70,000 people are employed by Japanese-owned businesses in Texas, including around 240 Japanese-affiliated enterprises in Houston. Furthermore, Texas is home to 53 Fortune 500 companies, 24 of which are in Houston. According to the Texas Development Corporation, Japanese firms have reported 119 investment projects in Texas over the past ten years, totalling $6.9 billion in capital investment and 19,620 jobs created.
On the other hand, Texas companies reported 25 investment projects in Japan, totalling $799 million in capital investment and 1,667 new jobs. Houston’s relationship with Japan extends beyond economic ties; the country’s regional Consulate-General is also located in Houston.