That Delta Air Lines will stop flying to Singapore is not much of a surprise. The carrier operates its flights to the city-nation from Tokyo-Narita today. That Narita operation will close in 2020 thanks to the carrier securing five new slot pairs at Haneda in the most recent DoT allocations. And with that hub closing, the ability to connect passengers onward to Singapore disappears.
The demand for those connecting flights is also eroding, thanks to an increase in nonstop flights from Singapore to the United States. United Airlines operates a pair daily from its San Francisco hub while Singapore Airlines flies from its home hub to Newark, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Seattle service starts next month, further pressuring Delta’s ability to continue delivering connecting traffic into Singapore with any reasonable hopes of profitability.
And so Delta’s Singapore service will end. Not in early 2020 when the new Haneda operations begin, but in late September 2019 (final eastbound flight is DL168/22SEP). Premium passengers pay for the nonstops to the USA. The cut was inevitable. Indeed, the overflight competition proved a more compelling basis for cutting the service than the migration of flights to Haneda.
Less clear for Delta’s route network plans is the future of its service to Manila. Currently operating from Narita – similar to the Singapore flight – Manila could remain on the schedule, serviced via Incheon to take advantage of connections with joint venture partner Korean Air from its hub there. At least one report claims that’s the plan, but the shift has yet to appear on the schedule for the carrier. The flight between Narita and Manila has closed for sale from 31 March 2020 as a non-stop option, indicating that it will not operate past that date. But it remains available for sale with a connection to the USA. This lends credence to the idea that the service will migrate to Incheon. Choosing a Tuesday for the final flights rather than the weekend prior, when the IATA seasonal schedules change, is somewhat unexpected. That timing may adjust as the new Haneda flight schedules are loaded.
While Korean Air currently operates double daily 777s to Manila the additional Delta flight could offer an additional flight timing during the day. It could also displace a Korean flight thanks to the Joint Venture arrangement. Or passengers booked on the Delta metal could be rebooked on to Korean’s flights to complete their trip.