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United gets tentative U.S. approval for flight to Tokyo Haneda

A customer is reflected in a screen showing the schedule times of United at Newark International airport in New Jersey , November 15, 2012.
A customer is reflected in a screen showing the schedule times of United at Newark International airport in New Jersey , November 15, 2012.

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday tentatively approved plans by United Continental Holdings to operate a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

United had applied for the rights to fly into Haneda in October after American Airlines announced plans to end service between New York's John F. Kennedy International airport and the airport, which is the closest to Tokyo American said its Haneda flight was unprofitable.

Hawaiian Holdings had also sought the Haneda takeoff and landing rights with a proposal to offer service from Kona, Hawaii.

The Transportation Department said United's flight from San Francisco "would introduce a new U.S. carrier at Haneda and would promote competition by giving business and leisure travelers an additional choice for connecting service."

In a statement, Chicago-based United said it looked forward to completing the approval process for the Haneda service.

The route is part of an open-skies accord between the United States and Japan that allows four daily roundtrip flights at Haneda. The other flights are operated by Hawaiian from Honolulu; and Delta Air Lines from Los Angeles and Seattle, the Transportation Department's statement said.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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