Delta cancels its Seattle-Tokyo Haneda flight for the winter

Delta Air Lines, which has embarked on an ambitious expansion of its repertoire of international flights from Sea-Tac Airport this year, is cutting back on one of those new flights.

The Atlanta-based carrier is canceling non-stop service for much of the fall, winter and early spring on its Sea-Tac-to-Tokyo Haneda flight. That flight will be suspended from Oct. 10 until March 29. It will resume for the warm weather months.

The flight serves close-in Haneda Airport in Tokyo instead of the more distant Narita Airport. Delta also serves Narita from Sea-Tac as does Japan’s All Nippon Airways. United Airlines, which had flown the Sea-Tac-Tokyo flight for years, halted its service to Narita earlier this year in the face of the competition from Delta and ANA.

Delta moved the U.S.-to-Haneda flight from its hub in Detroit to Sea-Tac last year in hopes of winning more traffic for the flight. For years, the Japanese government had reserved Haneda mostly for domestic airlines routing overseas carriers to Narita. When the Japanese agreed to allow limited foreign carriers to serve Haneda, it gave those carriers less desirable arrival and departure times. The return flight from Haneda to Sea-Tac leaves Tokyo at 12:15 a.m. The flight from Seattle to Tokyo Haneda arrives in Japan at 10:35 p.m.

Delta is realigning its Pacific network that it inherited from Northwest Airlines. Delta and Northwest merged in 2009. Northwest operated a hub at Tokyo Narita feeding most U.S. passengers into Narita and then switching them to other aircraft there to reach other Asian cities. Delta is setting up a West Coast international hub in Seattle with direct flights from Sea-Tac to Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong. Delta canceled its Tokyo-Hong Kong flight this summer shortly after it began non-stop service to Hong Kong from Sea-Tac.

Delta is also beefing up its schedule of domestic flights serving Sea-Tac to provide feed for those international routes. In the process, Delta is challenging SeaTac-based Alaska Airlines on many of its bread-and-butter routes.