ATLANTA – After beating American Airlines for the right to keep flying to Tokyo’s close-in airport, Delta Air Lines Inc. will give up the Seattle-to-Haneda route because it says the U.S. government’s terms are too onerous.
The government said in March that Delta could retain its Haneda business if it assured service 365 days a year, a measure that Delta said would be difficult to fulfill.
The route is “not viable under the current regulatory and market conditions,” Delta said Thursday. Atlanta-based Delta will continue flying to Haneda from Los Angeles International Airport, spokesman Trebor Banstetter said.
On Sept. 30, Delta will suspend service between Seattle and Haneda, an airport favored by business travelers because of its proximity to the Japanese capital. It will return the slot, or right to take off and land at the airport, to the Department of Transportation.
American Airlines Group Inc. had argued that Delta was flying the Seattle-Haneda route so infrequently that it had become near-dormant. American wants to take the slot being ceded by Delta and start a new route between Los Angeles and Haneda, American spokesman Matt Miller said.
“We’re excited to return to the Haneda market with daily, year-round service from Los Angeles,” American spokesman Matt Miller said in a telephone interview. The airline already flies to Tokyo’s Narita airport.
In April, Delta filed a letter with the Transportation Department objecting to the agency’s requirement that the airline operate the route every day. Failing to do so meant potentially ceding the route to American, according to the government’s requirements.