Minneapolis-St. Paul will grow its role as a Pacific gateway for Delta Air Lines. The carrier will add flights to Seoul, Korea in 2019 adding more connecting opportunities for passengers to Asia. The flight will increase the connectivity available into Asia through the joint venture with Korean Air. It also joins the flight Delta operates today to Tokyo’s Haneda airport.
Delta’s future is global and adding another nonstop flight to the joint venture’s Seoul-Incheon hub with Korean Air expands on our long-term vision. This will be a great driver of international commerce for the Minneapolis/St. Paul community and the State of Minnesota, as well as benefiting our customers, our employees and our owners. – Delta CEO Ed Bastian
Delta fought hard to secure the MSP-Haneda service as part of the draw down of its hub at Narita Airport. This new Incheon service allows the carrier to grow onward connections into Asia while keeping the Tokyo service for passengers traveling to that city. The connections over MSP also bring a significant number of passengers from the northeast and mid-Atlantic through to support those routes. Those connections appear to be supporting the Haneda route well today; they should similarly drive traffic on the Incheon route.
There is also a risk of the new Incheon route cannibalizing Haneda traffic but given the very local traffic focus – Delta lacks useful onward connection partners from Haneda – the passengers headed to Tokyo are likely to continue on the nonstop route rather than connect.
This new Delta route is one of a few to take shape since the JV with Korean was finalized earlier this year. Service from Atlanta to Seoul is already better coordinated, with the two carriers staggering their flights rather than operating as wingtip operations. Further integration and optimization is expected as the JV matures.
Delta will utilize newly refreshed 777-200ER aircraft with all new cabins. These aircraft will be equipped with 28 Delta One suites, the Delta Premium Select cabin with 48 seats and 220 all-new Main Cabin seats. Delta reaffirmed its commitment to keeping the 777 economy cabin at 9-abreast, offering increased passenger comfort compared to the 10-abreast layout that now is the more common layout on more 777s. The new cabins all enjoy in-seat USB and 110V power ports, inflight WiFi and new dynamic LED lighting that varies by phase of flight fostering a relaxing, refreshing environment onboard.
Separately, the carrier announced plans to add service between Seattle and Osaka while dropping the Seattle-Hong Kong service. The latter has been marginal since its launch.