Delta Air Lines To Restructure Their Tokyo-Narita Operations Including Discontinuing Tokyo-Singapore Service From September 22, 2019

Delta Air Lines has announced big changes to their traditionally large operations in Japan at Tokyo-Narita Airport, moving their station to Tokyo-Haneda and from next month on stop flying between Tokyo and Singapore.

Recently the U.S. Department of Transportation gave Delta five additional routes to Haneda, giving the Atlanta based carrier a total of seven daily flights, causing them to abandon Narita from early 2020.

The change of operations in Tokyo will come on the heels of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo but that wasn’t the major part of the consideration to move airports. Haneda is considerably more convenient when going into Tokyo given it’s close proximity to the Tokyo Metropolitan area.

For Delta customers living in Japan or South East Asia it was always a nice choice to be able to hop on one of these fifth freedom flights. Those became rare however. United was the first who dropped their Bangkok and Singapore operations. Delta followed with Bangkok and now the last flight between Singapore and Tokyo will be on September 22, 2019.

In March of 2020 Delta will entirely move all operations from Narita to Haneda. I’d expect Delta beginning to construct their own SkyClub at Haneda as soon as possible. The club at Narita has been popular with customers and  the partner lounge currently used in HND can’t stem that many passengers.

As the Japan Times reported last week the connection to Manila in the Philippines will also be moved at the same time – to Korea (Incheon-Manila).

… For operations within Asia, Delta will utilize the networks of its partner, Korean Air, whose primary hub is Incheon International Airport near Seoul.

The withdrawal from Narita is nothing but a shift to Haneda and there is no change in the importance of the Japanese market for Delta, a company official said. The move will contribute to improving its services, the official said.

The central government on Thursday announced a date for the introduction of new flight paths over Tokyo to increase capacity at Haneda airport in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics.

On March 29, planes will be able for the first time to descend and climb over densely populated Shibuya, Shinjuku and Shinagawa wards in central Tokyo.

By strengthening the airport’s capacity for international flights, the government aims to raise the annual number of foreign visitors to 40 million by 2020. …

Hopefully they also have a plan how to expand the facilities at Haneda Airport to fit all these passengers in. Currently the lines can be long and the one central immigration/security checkpoint might need to be expanded to two similar as they have it in Narita.

The lounges are overflowing already as well, something we have covered here multiple times. I’m expecting Delta to get their own club provided a suitable space is available. Cathay Pacific already built their own lounge which was very surprising to me. They could have used Japan Airlines lounge but apparently figured it was better or cheaper to operate their own facilities.

Conclusion

While I don’t mind Narita, I’ve come to appreciate Haneda more and more for international flights as long as the departure or arrival time is suitable.

Narita was Delta’s main hub in Asia as they inherited it from Northwest after the merger. Leaving Narita marks the end of a long history in Tokyo and there must be many Delta ground employees who are currently living in the immediate area. I wonder how they will cope with the transfer to Haneda now!?