Delta Begins to Further Dismantle Its Tokyo/Narita Hub


Yesterday Delta posted a new item on its News Hub entitled “Q&A with APAC SVP: Delta remains committed to Asia despite Haneda agreement.” Note that it says Delta remains committed to Asia, but it says nothing about Tokyo. In fact, Delta has actually decided to being unwinding its Narita hub by cutting three more routes, following through on earlier threats.

Delta’s position in Japan has been perilous for a long time. I know I’ve told this story many times on the blog already, so I’ll keep it brief. Delta inherited the spoils of World War II when it acquired Northwest. The airline’s Tokyo hub was the center of its Asian network. But as aircraft have gained better range, the reliance on Tokyo has waned. Still, Tokyo is an important global city and Japan is a huge market despite its shrinking population.

United and American both found salvation with joint ventures with ANA and JAL respectively. But Delta has been forced to go it alone. The big issue in Delta’s mind is access to Haneda. The close-in, convenient airport with a godzilla-free approach is preferred to more distant Narita, but it’s restricted.

Tokyo Airport Locations

Recent loosening of rules has given Delta two daily flights at Haneda, but that’s not enough for it to move its entire hub. With United/ANA and American/JAL having no shortage of slots, in the long run, Delta thinks it’s going to be in big trouble. The only people going to Narita will be those looking for a cheap deal, if Haneda ever fully opens up without restriction. And Delta doesn’t like being in that position.

It has used this stance to try to lobby the US government to block any further Haneda liberalization unless it can move its entire hub from Narita. That’s a non-starter and though Delta’s efforts may have succeeded in slowing down progress, there’s no stopping the eventual evolution. Delta has threatened that cities would lose Tokyo service from the US and its whole hub would be in jeopardy. In the long run that seems possible, but in the short run it appeared to be just speculation. Apparently that’s not the case as Delta has begun a new round of pull-downs.

The first shot was fired a few months ago when Delta received temporary authority to fly from Los Angeles to Haneda during the day. Starting this fall, Delta is canceling the Narita flight and only operating the Haneda one from there. Now that this is positioned to become a permanent route authority, don’t expect Delta to bring Narita back.

Yesterday, Delta said it would cancel three more routes. Most notably, Delta will no longer fly from JFK to Narita. That is a fairly remarkable drop considering how important New York is to Delta. That will leave United/ANA with 1 daily flight from JFK to Narita, one to Haneda, and one from Newark to Narita. In addition, American/JAL will have 2 daily flights from JFK. I can only assume Delta is losing so much money in this market that it can’t even justify the strategic value. Either that, or it’s trying to send some kind of message about how devastating the Haneda situation will be. I’ll stay positive and assume it’s the former.

Delta is also canceling flights from Narita to Osaka and Bangkok. The Osaka flight was entirely about connecting passengers. So maybe with the loss of feed from LA and New York, that route no longer makes sense (if it ever did). Delta will continue to fly from Osaka to Guam and Honolulu, but that’s for the Japanese market. Americans who want to get to Osaka on Delta will either have to backtrack via Seoul or Shanghai and connect on a partner or just take the train from Tokyo.

Bangkok is a dot that will be wiped completely off Delta’s map (excluding codeshare). On this one, I just assume it’s low-yielding and there’s not enough traffic to bother continuing to fly it. There could also be some operational moves going on here that make it easier to schedule the now-shrinking operation without this flight. Again, it’s partner or bust here.

This leaves Delta with a fairly small hub at Narita. It continues to serve Manila, Shanghai, Singapore, and Taipei within Asia. Of those, only Shanghai is also served from the US. It wouldn’t shock me to see any of those flights disappear. Delta also serves its beach markets in Guam, Honolulu, Palau, and Saipan. Those are almost exclusively for Japanese travelers. They’re leisure routes, so they have a better chance of surviving at Narita.

From the US, once the Haneda award is finalized by the government, I’d be shocked if the Minneapolis-Narita flight didn’t go away since Delta will begin Minneapolis-Haneda. That would leave only Atlanta, Detroit, Portland, and Seattle with flights to Narita. It does make you wonder if Portland can survive. The other three, however, are more about US-originations that flow through those hubs. I think those will have to remain for some time. But if Delta gets a few more Haneda slots…

It’s fascinating to watch Delta pull down its operation at Narita. This could position Delta to get more Haneda slots whenever further liberalization occurs. Or it could rub the feds the wrong way and have the opposite effect.

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44 comments on “Delta Begins to Further Dismantle Its Tokyo/Narita Hub

  1. I’ve been following your analysis of Delta and the former NorthWest Narita hub with a lot of interest. I feel the presumed advantages for Haneda you frequently bring up are, perhaps, overstated.

    I lived in Tokyo for three years and travelled often, both business and pleasure, to and from Narita. At that time Haneda was serving Japan domestic destinations almost exclusively.

    Haneda is indeed closer to city center than Narita, but it’s hardly easy to get to. To drive from north of Tokyo proper to either one is a chore, to reach Haneda via public transpo is way more difficult than to use the several competing excellent express train services to and from Narita.

    Of course I’m not Japanese, but when I lived there, 1996/1999, Haneda was considered very much a second class airport by my Japanese staff and friends … it had the sort of “aura” similar to Newark in the NYC metro … certainly not the first choice for most travelers with a choice. Of course, things do change …

    1. Dave – I get that, but I think perception is more important than reality oftentimes. Haneda may have been second class before but with its new international terminal, it seems to have changed perception around. At least, that’s what the airlines seem to be seeing.

      1. I go there once every 2-3 weeks. Cranky (and the airlines) are right on. No one wants to go NRT anymore. it makes a HUGE difference in your day whether you arrive NRT or HND. 24K JPY taxi from NRT v. 8K from HND also makes a huge difference.

    1. Delta flies to PEK from both Detroit and Seattle; both flights continue to operate. American flies to PEK from both DFW and ORD which is why the DOT has to consider whether AA’s decision to build DFW to China before saying it wanted LAX-PEK after DL asked for it. Also, AA argues that DL’s SEA to PEK flights would allow it to dominate the west coast even though the west coast to China is a larger market than from the Midwest and yet AA operates two PEK flights from two cities in the Central Time Zone that are closer together than LAX is to SEA.

      There are other factors in that route case but AA and DL both each serve two routes to Beijing. UA serves far more and also codeshares on its Chinese partner’s flights to Beijing from the US; AA does that on one flight while DL has no transpacific codeshares from PEK.

      1. AA’s argument is that without LAX they can’t serve western customers to PEK without first back tracking to DFW or ORD, and that’s true, whereas DL can transfer at SEA. It’s a valid argument. Plus DL also flies from NRT to PVG and that could be changed to LAX-PEK if they wanted. Both are arguments slightly in AA’s favor, but neither should be determinative. Code shared flights are relatively meaningless to this argument, though AA’s JV partner flights should be weighted.

        1. Jeffery,
          thanks for your replies and thanks to Cranky for serving up the topic.

          Delta’s response to AA’s argument about the west coast is that if the west coast was that important to AA, why did they not start LAX-PEK before two DFW routes. Further, AA’s argument that DL’s two west coast hubs give DL an advantage is offset by the fact that DFW and ORD are closer together than LAX and SEA are. If AA strategically believed that LAX to Asia was the most important part of building out its Asia network, it should have prioritized both LAX routes over DFW – but they didn’t do that. AA could just as easily go to the DOT and ask that one of its four China routes from DFW or ORD be moved; the fact that DL gained rights to serve NRT-PVG doesn’t necessitate that it give that route up or the right to transfer it to another city in order to serve LAX-PEK.

          Note also that UA just managed after years of trying to find slots at PVG for a 2nd SFO-PVG flight to start this winter, after the LAX-PEK route case started and it became apparent that if UA didn’t activate its 2nd SFO-PVG flight, AA and DL could have both been awarded LAX-PEK. If the DOT was committed to ensuring parity among carriers (which is the argument behind AA’s argument for DL to use its NRT-PVG slot for LAX-PEK) then the DOT would have and should have stripped UA of one of its China flights.

          Probably the most significant argument in DL’s favor is that within a year of starting LAX-PVG and years after AA and UA both started it, DL became the largest US carrier on that route. DL also flies a 744 from DTW to PVG compared to an all 788 operation on AA from ORD. DL’s original request for the LAX-PEK noted that DL and its Chinese partners are co-locating at PEK which will facilitate connections. DL now has its code on more than 70 flights beyond PEK, more than any other US carrier has beyond any gateway in Asia. DL notes that while AA has downgraded most of its US-China flights to smaller aircraft, DL is using larger aircraft on several of its routes and is also generating the traffic that comes from feeding traffic into a partner’s hub. While Hong Kong is not as restricted of a market as PVG and PEK is, AA is starting HKG-LAX and has succeeded at DFW-HKG because of Cathay’s hub. It is very logical to look at the ability to connect traffic at PVG and PEK, which DL can do at both cities while AA has virtually no codeshares beyond either and UA has a large codeshare operation at PEK but not PVG.

          but back to Narita/Japan, I will go out on a not very long limb and say that AA’s presence at Narita is very much at risk from ORD and LAX. They indicated at the time they applied for Haneda-LAX that they would drop LAX-NRT; it is hard to believe that if there were doubts about that route then, they will be magnified many times with 3 carriers operating LAX-HND. Further, the logic of operating LAX-NRT to carry connections doesn’t make sense against the fact that nearly every major city in Asia has nonstop on someone from LAX. An carrier that flies LAX to Asia with the intention of connecting traffic against other carrier nonstop will be relegated to lower yielding traffic; LAX-HND will siphon off most of the high-yielding local Tokyo passengers.

          As for ORD, AA has trailed UA to Asia by a considerable distance for a number of years. With NH/UA having a nonstop to HND while all 4 carriers try to continue to support ORD-NRT flights, AA could well be the first to give up. Cancelling even one of AA’s 3 ORD-Asia routes will doom the others but I doubt that AA can continue to subsidize ORD to Asia while also trying to fight the diminishing value of its NRT flights in other US cities and build up LAX to Asia against a lot of competition from DL and UA.

          I also think that the Haneda awards could doom UA’s IAD hub to further cuts; UA and NH offer more flights from the NE to Narita than the market can likely support.

          Regarding codeshares, they are market access and the DOT does consider codeshare connectivity. After all, AA spent pages and pages of its LAX-PEK route case arguing that DL’s size in Asia is heavily based on the number of codeshare partners even though none of them are joint ventures. AA can’t argue for DL’s size in Asia because of simple codeshares but then say that its own codeshare access to PEK doesn’t count.

          Regarding your comment below about joint ventures, there is absolutely nothing that requires a carrier to have a JV in any region or punishes them if they don’t have one but could. A joint venture/business is a business relationship that might or might not make sense based on the carriers and markets involved.
          Everyone seems to think that DL should have a JV with KE but all of the indications are that KE wants to gain a disproportionately large share of the JV revenue, something that DL obviously isn’t willing to do any more than any other carrier would do in any other region.

          thanks for the conversation and your input!

          1. All good points, and nice civil debate (so rare on the interwebs!). I’d say that most of the work that started building DFW before LAX came from pre-merger management (even the 2014 routes had to have the years of work before the merger) the new management pushed into LAX as the Asian gateway with its expanded routes and additional domestic feed.

            My comment on JV actually would boost DL as I think all metal neutral flights should be weighted the same as a company flights, versus a lower weight to codesharing, so any JAL flight thats falls under the agreement should be treated like an AA flight in the analysis.

            Im pretty sure AA wanted to wait for PEK as it’s not a great time for revenue strength, but DL applying forced them to act now.

            I do think there is a difference between the value to the US side of mainland flying then ex-NRT flying which is why the argument that moving the NRT slots, which caters to a mix of connecting and Japanese O&D to PVG, versus AA moving a mainland (ORD or DFW) slot to another mainland slot, but like I said, it matters, but I don’t think the you could move a slot argument should be a weighty element in the DOT analysis.

            1. I agree, Jeff, that it is good to talk with someone who knows the issues involved and can present them in a civil, constructive manner. The sites that host such conversations benefit and people learn – which should be a goal of these types of online discussions.

              The DOT agrees with your assessment that joint venture flights have to be considered alongside company operated flights because there is joint coordination and potential for revenue and profit sharing although the details of how that works for each joint venture/business arrangement is not publicly released (although the DOT and DOJ know those details).

              The point regarding codeshare vs. joint ventures is relevant because AA does have a joint venture with JAL, currently has equal access to China other than the DL NRT-PVG flight which is offset by a SEA-PEK codeshare, and either AA or DL could add service to most of the rest of Asia under Open Skies or available frequencies.

              The only reason that Delta responded to American’s claims in the LAX-PEK route case about network size was to discount American’s assertion that Delta is much larger to the American-created northeast Asia region which includes Japan, S. Korea, and China (which AA and DL both fly to on their own metal) but not Hong Kong where AA is larger and also has a fairly large codeshare operation. The DOT’s interest in codeshares in a route case (and codeshares are approved by the DOT according to what is allowed in the treaty with each country) is if a carrier has access to a market via codeshare and if codeshares beyond the gateway can help increase the number of passengers a carrier can carry on the transpacific segment. AA and DL each have two daily flights from the US to PEK right now, AA has a codeshare on one additional flight (from SEA, the same west coast gateway that AA says gives DL a west coast advantage), while DL has far more beyond gateway codesharing on its Chinese partners which should help increase the number of passengers it can carry on the transpacific flights. That has been the case for DL to PVG.

              DL asked for the LAX-PEK flight when it did because DL and its Skyteam partners are moving into the same terminal at PEK in December; the LAX-PEK flight was intended to offset DL’s elimination of LAX-NRT while also timing the addition of a new flight with the new Skyteam facilities at PEK.

              I agree that neither carrier really wants to add more capacity to China right now but they don’t want to allow the competitive balance to shift and are willing to start the LAX-PEK flight in order to prevent that from happening. Based on existing market data, DL would likely be able to carry more passengers at higher fares than AA on LAX-PEK.

              While it may be true that a transpacific frequency is more valuable to US customers, there is nothing in any route case that I have seen that says that frequencies which have already been granted have to be considered alongside the potential use for frequencies which are under consideration. Once a frequency is issued, the DOT does not continue to evaluate whether that use is superior to the proposed use in the route case. If that were the case then all of AA and DL’s current Chinese frequencies could be compared to the proposed use to see if the proposed route would be superior to what is currently being used. DOT route cases don’t work that way. If it did, DL’s argument that AA has downgauged most of its China routes to smaller equipment than what they proposed using would swing the case in DL’s favor. The only argument that past history makes is to show the likelihood of a carrier performing on a newly awarded route compared to what it has done with other awarded routes. DL and UA have far larger Chinese codeshare partnerships which helps them carry more passengers while AA has not only fewer partnerships but also less history in China (DL’s being derived in part from NW, UA’s for a longer time from Pan Am) which makes it harder for AA to build its network to China.

              I don’t know how the DOT will rule but I don’t believe that AA’s case for gaining LAX-PEK is as solid as some people make it out to be and I also do believe that the DOT very much recognizes that AA has been given plenty of access to Asia via its JAL JBA and frequencies for its own routes but continues to claim it is at a disadvantage.

              The daytime HND route case was supported by AA and UA and their Japanese partners. AA and JL did not get as large of a portion of the total routes as they wanted while UA/NH did. The DOT chose to award HND access on similar lines to what it did for nighttime access which gave more capacity to DL and HA based on their lack of a Japanese partner while AA and UA were supposed to be able to get some of their access thru their Japanese partners. If AA/JL’s partnership did not give AA the access it needed, then it is not because the legal process did not work as AA and UA wanted it to.

              With DL’s route cuts in Japan, the focus shifts to what happens in the rest of Asia. China matters only so much as it is a restricted access market compared to other countries. The marketplace will ultimately dictate who wins and loses while government and regulatory obstacles might work in favor of one or two carriers for a short time but will ultimately fall to marketplace realities. As a result of the Haneda route case, US-Japan capacity will increasingly be focused on the local market with daytime Haneda access hurting all carriers’ Narita routes. The sooner the Japanese government opens Haneda to full access, the better it will be for the market. Until that fully happens, US-Japan capacity will shrink, fares will go up, and Japanese carriers will be marginalized by new flights between the US and other countries in Asia.

  2. As a loyal DL flier, the thing that stinks is that the SkyTeam partners just aren’t that great. Yet. I am based in NYC, so the JFK-NRT flight was fantastic for getting there, and then connecting. If the best two stop way is now China Eastern or China Southern and then a connection, sure the hard product is good but the many reviews on the soft product all sound dreadful. And are those even full MQM? KE was and now isn’t. I get that DL wants me on their metal, but when there is no metal, you gotta give me the full MQM. And while I know people scoff at DL, I find the beds, the Westin bedding, the food and the Tumi kits to be just fine for a long flight. I don’t really have great options. I guess there are more three stop options. I can fly from NY to DTW/SEA/LAX and then connect somewhere but that’s a lot of extra flights. Maybe the A350 will open some of these back up? Or more directs from SEA?

  3. I am curious why Delta does not try to serve more popular Asian cities direct from USA. Here is a self serving example. I have to fly to MNL for business and it is always two stops – a US hub and NRT. The only direct flights to MNL from the USA are from LAX and SFO on PAL (great flight attendants – lousy airline). A 777 can (barely) make it there from ATL (or JFK or DTW). Why not? From NRT to MNL it is always an oversold 747 so it seems the demand is there.

    1. MNL can sustain a 777, but it might sustain a 787. the route always carry a LOTof NonRevs on a daily basis.

      1. Thanks Ted. I do not know how many non-revs are on the NRT – MNL route but I frequently get bumped to first from economy on that leg. I do not think Delta will ever get any 787s, maybe they will service it with an A-350 in a few years, but a 777 from a Delta hub to MNL would be a good flight for Delta in my opinion although it will probably have to go from DTW due to range considerations – MNL is a long way away.

  4. First of all, this is very like just the “cut” phase of Delta’s Pacific restructuring. They said all along that they had to let their employees know as soon as they could and there are likely legal requirements they have to meet in order to cut flights and service; they also have to stop selling seats on routes they don’t intend to fly.

    There will be a “build” phase and that part is not known yet – but it will occur.
    The only question is what and when.

    Of the routes that will be cut, JFK-NRT is by far the most significant. Right now, it appears that Delta won’t have a presence from New York to Asia on its own metal. Neither does American. that could change for either Delta or American if they choose to add another flight on their own metal. They could rely on partnerships as American continues to do.

    Delta is very likely right that the addition of Haneda service from the US will negatively impact the ability of flights from Narita to attract high value customers. Delta might have yelled the loudest about Haneda access and the impact it will have on Delta’s Narita hub but I find it far more insightful that JAL and ANA and their US partners both seem to think – or at least aren’t changing their tune publicly – that their Narita hubs will continue to function just fine as new Haneda flights are added.

    The shrill that has come from American about not getting DFW to HND says to me they recognize very much that Delta and United have a strategic advantage in feeding passengers to Haneda that AA/JL simply don’t have. At the same time, NRT will increasingly be pressured including from key markets such as Chicago, New York and Dallas, where AA/JL have their largest joint presence ot Japan outside of the west coast.

    The number of new US and Asian carrier nonstop that overfly Japan is going to continue to grow which in itself weakens Japan as a connecting hub for all carriers. Add in trying to run dual hubs and I think a lot of people are failing to appreciate that Delta might be the canary in the coal mine which other carriers simply don’t want to listen to.

    The real question is what and when Delta chooses to add nonstop from the US to Asia outside of Japan.

    American and Delta are both trying to gain LAX-PEK service. I suspect this route case like the HND final awards is being intentionally delayed by the DOT because if they issued an order today, airlines can’t get slots to start new service within the 90 days. That is exactly what happened with AA and its LAX-HND flight.

    Delta probably can wait for several months before making any further transpacific route announcements for new service.

    There are very likely some changes to Delta’s partnerships in Asia as a result of this restructuring. PVG is a huge market but the service level differences and the delays there make it unlikely that Delta will choose it as the primary means to serve those markets. Delta has other partners in Asia that they likely will work with to increase their ability to connect presence – but they aren’t going to give the market to an Asian carrier just because Delta doesn’t have a NRT hub anymore.

    Eventually, I am sure that Delta realizes that Manila, Singapore and Taipei will have to be served nonstop from the US because other carriers are doing it; Delta simply can’t compete with only offering a stop in Asia unless it is willing to not compete for the passengers in the largest west coast markets where nonstop are an option. I think Delta’s growth on the west coast and American’s intent to grow LAX to Asia is evidence that both carriers recognize they have to compete for traffic from all of the US to Asia, just as UA does from SFO.

    This is the first step in a process of restructuring Delta’s transpacific operation. Remember that the Delta/Northwest TPAC system at the time of the merger 8 years ago was almost entirely focused around Japan. They’ve come along ways since but there is every indication they still will keep moving planes and routes around.

  5. Didn’t DL mess up its relationship with KE, where it could be enjoying a nice connecting operation via SEL and only kept Japan cities for point to point service to/from the USA and like you mentioned, some of the Pacific islands?

    1. The notion that Delta messed up its relationship with Korean Airlines is at odds with the facts. Delta has its code on more KE flights from Seoul than American or United have on their Japanese partners from either Tokyo airport. Delta has the largest presence of any US airline at Seoul. If KE wanted to cause DL to have to downsize its ICN operation, it would not allow DL to put its code on KE’s flights. In the US, Korean operates more seats from Atlanta to Seoul than Delta does from Atlanta to Narita. Korean’s size and discounting in Atlanta – which includes visits by the A380 and fares below Delta’s – has long been known as a source of conflict between the two which provide the only passenger service from Atlanta to East Asia. Delta’s decision to limit KE codesharing on DL’s US flights as well as its reducing the value of KE passenger earning potential in Skymiles is directly attributable to KE’s practices in Atlanta and yet KE is still willing to allow DL to codeshare beyond ICN which increases its size in the local Seoul market. DL is not the only US carrier that has reduced its codeshare and interline relationship with KE.

      Further, the number of DL’s codeshares from ICN on KE are second only to the number of flights that DL codeshares on from Peking which is the largest US carrier codeshare operation in Asia and then, right behind it, DL from PVG and UA from PEK which are about the same size.

      DL has not chosen to form any joint ventures with any Asian airline but that would appear to be related to the expectations of each carrier for how the JV operates. Delta has long said it wants a joint venture for all of Asia, similar to what it has with Air France/KLM to Europe. I’m not sure that any single carrier can do that; UA has settled for a multi-carrier JV involving a partner in each of several Asian countries.

      Add in that American started DFW-ICN service after KE had already operated it and then did the same thing on LAX-São Paulo, resulting in KE having to reduce its own flights and it is hard to argue that KE has much choice if it wants a US partner. Even if the DL-KE Skyteam agreements allow KE to use another partner (other than from DFW which Delta doesn’t fly although it still codeshares on KE’s own flights), any AA growth to ICN will be in a market which KE already serves. S. Korea just like Japan is being challenged as a connecting hub by growth in

      Delta will still, at least for now, serve Manila, Taipei, and Singapore via Narita although I strongly suspect they are retaining those routes now with the expectation they will add nonstop routes from the US eventually. Delta, in time, could add ATL or JFK to Shanghai service depending on the outcome of the DOT’s LAX-PEK decision. Delta could also seek to have the US-China bilateral expanded and could find support from the Chinese carriers who also have now hit the limits of available flights.

      Delta has A350s coming next year and also has transpacific 330s available as well as 777s flying the Atlantic and to Latin America that could be redeployed to Asia so aircraft availability is not limiting Delta’s ability to grow in the Pacific.

      1. I think the argument for strained relations involves their unwillingness to enter into a JV together, that on paper makes a ton of sense. Code-sharing doesn’t imply much, and revenue difference to the non-operating carrier between code shares and metal-neutal revenue sharing JV is huge. Add the fact that KE is really DL’s only JV option right now due to no open skies with China and you can see why people may think it’s a strained relationship. At the very least it’s clear they don’t see eye to eye on how a JV would work otherwise it would probably be in place.

  6. I’m curious to see what happens with NRT-PVG if AA gets the LAX-PEK rights. I believe DL had the right to drop the NRT-PVG and fly from a US hub to a 1st tier Chinese airport if they do.

  7. I agree with the poster comparing HND to NRT with respect to transit times to Tokyo.

    The reality is a difference of maybe 5 to 40 minutes each way, depending on where in Tokyo you are going. Certainly, if your final destination in Tokyo is near a NEX (Narita Express) station, then NRT could be even faster – one fast train, no stops or changes. And the NEX stations are very central, in populated, hotel-filled areas.

    When I started traveling to Tokyo, I drank the Kool-aid that Haneda was preferable. But with experience I learned that it’s really not necessarily the case.

  8. Since Delta is dropping LAX and NYC to NRT, does DL think there won’t be enough connecting passenger’s to keep Bangkok or is BKK just not holding it’s own….Isn’t there enough traffic for DL to continue NRT as well as HND….the NRT is mainly for connecting traffic to other Asian destination’s… for MSP, i’ve read so many thing’s about MSP is going to fail before it even start’s….seem’s to me that both NRT and HND could both hold their own since one will be mainly O&D and the other connecting….I could understand if MSP wasn’t such a big hub for DL….Ive watched the NRT hub since it was with Northwest Orient and thought it was an amazing hub for a US carrier that didn’t have much of a domestic presence, before de-regulation….NYC-NRT has come and gone a few time’s so when things pick up, it might come back….

    1. MC – Hubs built just for connecting purposes rarely work. Charlotte is probably the best example, and that’s because other than Atlanta there’s nothing else that serves that area well. Having Narita for connecting purposes wouldn’t have any real advantage over other connecting hubs in Asia. I can’t imagine that being a strategy that would work out.

      1. You are spot on and that is why the notion that AA/JL and NH/UA can retain NRT as a connecting hub while funneling local Tokyo passengers to Haneda makes no sense.

        There will be enough capacity offered from the mainland to Haneda to siphon off a high percentage of the local Tokyo traffic off of Narita flights. DL’s cuts are based on that reality which AA/JL and NH/UA have not been willing to acknowledge – at least not yet. Of course the fact that DL is using nearly 300 passenger 777s – and could upgrade its two flights to A350s when they become available (and will likely hold more passengers) could be for DL to offer as many seats to HND as possible while the other alliances are not using aircraft with as many seats to HND, perhaps trying to limit the impact on their NRT hubs.

  9. I definitely drink the HND Kool Aid, but I also live in Seoul. Case in point, my friend flew an LCC ICN-NRT. He left around 11-11:30 for the bus (one hour, ICN is far from Gangnam) and his flight at 2ish. He landed around 4-4:30. By the time he cleared immigration, bought train tickets, etc. etc. he didn’t get to our Shinjuku apt. until 7-8.

    Meanwhile, I worked until 5:30, caught a 30 minute train to Gimpo airport. My flight was at 7:15. As it’s Gimpo, you literally show up and there’s no one. Landed at 9:15ish, cleared security in seconds, and made it to Shinjuku by 10:30.

    I can also catch the 8a flight back to GMP, land at 11 and be back at work by 12. Weekend trips!

    Considerably less time GMP-HND than ICN-NRT. Also, when you factor in the price of public transit from HND vs a bus or train from NRT…, flying to NRT to save a few bucks…actually doesn’t.

    Also, I think HND International Terminal is exponentially nicer than NRT. There are legitimate shopping options (4th floor souvenir/regional snack store is the best). There’s also legitimate food as well. I normally don’t try to get to airports early, but I’ll go to HND early for the 4th floor dining and shopping.

  10. I travel to BKK 5 times a year. DAL to NRT has been such a good connection. I hate that they have suspended the BKK flights.. I have very seldom been on a flight from NRT to BKK that had any seats available… Hard to understand, a world airline dropping a entire country!!

    1. I agree Guy. Most Asian flights are full. I cannot understand how a carrier loses money on full flights. If Delta is losing money with a 767 why not put a 757 on the route.

  11. At LAX, we are installing bigger GPU’s at T2 and T3. This only means bigger Delta metal at LAX and can only mean one thing. Delta is most probably going to fly direct to Asian destinations. We are moving to T2 and T3

  12. Delta’s cancellation of jfk-nrt route is a stab in the back for the New York travelers.I mean JFK is major airport for Delta and they took it out for competition and growth. I mean, who wants to fly from jfk-atl, jfk-sea, jfk-dtw. etc. then connect to those other airports to fly to Narita? Some people might like that, but others prefer flying nonstop. If Delta is worried about competition, they should’ve have partnered with Solaseed and Vanilla Airlines (which both airlines operate in Japan) and add to the Skyteam group, then the the route wouldn’t be axed. Delta executives has screws loose on their heads to make a stupid decision.

    1. I was on a flight the Manila last week and was speaking to the flight attendants. Basically the NRT – MNL is a 747 that goes up MNL to NRT in the AM and returns to MNL in the PM and has an all Manila based flight attendant crew. Delta fired 30 of their 48 flight attendants based in Manila (they were less than thrilled as you might guess). Delta is retiring the 747 on that route and replacing it with a 767. A 767 only requires 18 flight attendants a 747 48 (for daily service). The airfare the day the 767 starts service doubles. The reason has to be capacity. A 767 is half the size of a 747.

      Delta is really tempting loyal followers to choose a different service to Asia.

      1. jeff2 – They’ll be lucky to have a 767 the way the Philippines is trying to isolate themselves from the US now. The current president seems to be more interested in Russia and China. I can imagine that might end up hurting their service if they go through with some of those threats.

        1. I agree Cranky. The president is a real nut. It is a shame because it will hurt the people of the Philippines. I have business there, but I am looking at alternatives if this anti-American pressure continues. There are many countries that can replace the Philippines for many businesses; it will only hurt the people there which is sad. Off the political side, this decision by Delta was made long before this president spouted off. I am not sure why Delta is getting out of Asia (slowly) without having a sky team partner / code share as a replacement. It seems short sighted. I am not going to pay double to fly Delta. I will may a little more for Delta, but not double.

  13. There is nothing surprising that Delta is cutting flight attendants at MNL. Not many years ago, Delta said that if the Narita hub was downsized, there would be a need to reduce its presence in beyond Tokyo markets. Since Delta operated two 747s to MNL not that long ago and is moving to a single 767, there is a significant reduction in capacity and need for FAs as well.
    As for New York JFK, it is no more indicting of Delta that they don’t fly to East Asia than that no US carrier has a presence rom JFK to East Asia. JFK is still the largest airport for nearly all international New York destinations.
    With daytime flights to Haneda starting in just a couple of weeks, there are really only two options of what will happen.
    Either the Japanese government and Delta are correct and Haneda airport is the preferred alternative for Tokyo passengers which validates their long-term decision to move traffic from Narita or that assumption is incorrect. If the Japanese government is correct in their policy to move flights from Narita to Haneda on a long-term basis, when then Delta’s strategy of shifting capacity from Narita to Haneda and to nonstops from the US to other points in East Asia will prove to be correct. Further the shift in capacity from Narita to Haneda will cause other airline hubs at Narita to shrink. American United JAL and ANA aren’t willing to admit that their Narita hubs may not be successful on a long-term basis.
    If the Japanese government and Delta are incorrect and both airports can exist as viable international hubs, then Tokyo will be an exception among worldwide cities where there is currently no example of any city having two major international connecting airports
    Delta is simply following through on the strategy that it established as a result of the shift of traffic from Narita to Haneda. Delta is the only US airline that has service from the mainland U.S. to Manila. In addition, Delta’s growing codeshare relationship with Korean Airlines will help shift connecting traffic from Tokyo to Seoul. We are also still waiting for the DOT’s decision on the Los Angeles to Beijing route which will impact a certain amount of connecting traffic.

    1. Thanks for the comments Tim.

      One thing, Delta does not have service to US mainland to / from Manila. PAL and AA have service from the US West coast to MNL, but Delta only serves MNL from Tokyo.

      I have not seen their code share grow with Korean, but maybe I missed it. I would like to see their codeshare grow as Korean is a lower tier carrier with Delta on Skymiles and few MQMs are earned when flying on Korean.

      1. do you mind posting all of the AA flight numbers to/from MNL?

        DL’s service to MNL is via NRT and is the only US carrier service to the Philippines that connects to the mainland.

        as for codeshares, just remember that if codeshares matter, AA has 3 flights/day to PEK while DL has 2…. which just might influence the DOT’s decision on LAX-PEK.

        There is an article here about DL-KE on this site. When the schedules are filed, the DL-KE codeshare partnership will be one of the largest over the Pacific

        1. Hi Tim.

          I apologize. There is no American Airlines service to Manila. I was incorrect. It seems the only America flag carriers are Delta and United has a flight to Guam.

          I did more research and it seems US carriers do not feel they can compete with the low cost structure of Philippine flag carriers. Also, residents of Philippines are price conscious and often do not pay for business class tickets which is essential for profitable operations. Thus Manila is a low margin city.

  14. MNL is a low yield market because the Philippines are not economically in the same league as other East Asian economies. The connection with the US is heavily tied to WWII which also was the source of the NW Tokyo to MNL traffic rights.

    The bigger question in DL’s restructuring is TPE and CI China Airlines which is a Skyteam carrier. Perhaps TPE and codesharing on CI’s network to SE Asia is an early addition after the SEA expansion.

  15. Folks, my biggest issue is service to BKK, OR THE lack of it now, from DL.
    From the east coast smaller cities Norfolk, Richmond or Newportnews virginia. We had to go to either Atl, Jfk,DTW,MSP, but all connected to NRT TO BKK.
    Even Dulles on DL its now to seattle Bottom line over 28 hr to get to BKK..
    KAL from Atl to BKK is cheaper than the posted DL TO Bkk?????
    — options now to take KAL from IAD Dulles to ICN then to BKK

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