American carrier, Delta Air Lines has departed from Changi Airport for the last time. Delta Air Lines flight DL168, operated by a Boeing 767-300ER bearing the registration N171DZ took off from Changi at 6:01 am on 21 September 2019.
Delta Air Lines' usual rotation to Singapore departs Seattle and routes via Tokyo Narita.
Delta announced the suspension of flights to Singapore six months before the closure of its Tokyo Narita hub. Delta made their decision as the company was granted permission to operate flights from Atlanta, Detroit, Honolulu, Portland and Seattle to Tokyo Haneda.
Tokyo Haneda is a newer airport compared to Tokyo Narita. Tokyo Haneda is located closer to the city, allowing travellers to conveniently travel to and from the city to the airport. Moreover, Tokyo Haneda offers more international departure and arrival slots to airlines.
This has led to Delta's decision to close down their Tokyo Narita hub as they reveal their plan to transfer operations to Tokyo Haneda. Delta has suspended over 10 flights over the past seven years and is preparing to pull out of Narita entirely. As of today (after the suspension of the Tokyo Narita to Singapore service), Delta only flies to six other destinations from Tokyo Narita.
American Airlines has joint ventures with Japan Airlines, and United Airlines has connections with All Nippon Airways (ANA) but Delta has no connection with any Japanese carriers. Hence, Delta is looking to enhance its partnership with Korean Airlines and use Seoul Incheon as a new hub for flights to and from Southeast Asia.
Besides the closure of Delta's Narita hub, the airline also faced stiff competition with Singapore Airlines and United Airlines. These two airlines provide travellers with direct flights to and from the United States to Singapore. Recently, Singapore Airlines launched a new route from Singapore to Seattle. Travellers in Seattle will not have to transit at Tokyo Narita with Delta, to get to Singapore. These flights allow greater convenience for travellers, reducing the total travel time if they were to take transit flights.
Chief Analyst for Capa Centre, Brendan Sobie mentioned that: "Non-stops are the future for the US market here, and Delta has been very conservative and has lost out. Delta is very small here and their market has declined as competitors expanded."
The airline said in a statement that their customers can continue to fly to Singapore via Seoul Incheon through Delta's partnership with Korean Air. Passengers intending to travel between Singapore and the US need not worry as Singapore Airlines and United Airlines offer a total of 71 weekly flight services to the US, out of which 45 are non-stop flights.
Despite Delta's sudden withdrawal of flights, Changi Airport Group said: "We will continue to keep in touch with Delta and look forward to welcoming the airline back to Changi Airport in the future."