US, Japan reach agreement that could doom Twin Cities flights to Tokyo


The Twin Cities' nonstop air link with Asia could be doomed after an agreement was reached between Japan and the U.S. to open up another airport to more international flights.

Delta had warned its direct flights between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Tokyo's Narita Airport would probably be scrapped as increasing services between the U.S. and Tokyo Haneda Airport would render the service unprofitable.

Minnesota legislators including Gov. Mark Dayton and Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar had lobbied the government to renegotiate the deal to save the service, but USA Today reports an agreement between the nations was reached on Thursday.

It will mean Haneda, seen as more desirable as it's closer to downtown Tokyo, will be opened up to more U.S. airline daytime services, removing existing restrictions that mean U.S. carriers depart or arrive during overnight hours.

The deal benefits Delta's rivals United and American, who unlike Delta have Japanese airline partners and are likely to attract travelers away from the Narita-MSP route in favor of other U.S. hubs.

About 90 percent of travelers from Tokyo to the Twin Cities connect to other domestic flights at MSP.

In a statement reported by the Bloomberg, Delta said it is "committed to doing our best to maintain the viability of our current Asian route structure and our Narita hub for as long as possible, recognizing that commercial impacts are imminent.

"Delta will make a careful assessment and adjust our network accordingly."

The Star Tribune reports Delta expects to lose many of its Tokyo passengers from New York and Los Angeles to other airlines, which it says will "ripple across to its other five U.S. ports with nonstops to Narita."

An open letter to Vice President Joe Biden from business representatives was published in the Star Tribune on Thursday as the he arrived for a visit to St. Paul, saying the many Fortune 500 companies located in Minnesota rely on the link to bring commerce to the state.

"We implore you, Mr. Vice President, to engage the president and the administration on this issue," it says.

Next Up

Richard Pitino

Talk grows that this season will be Pitino's last at Gophers

A report says Pitino's tenure could be "down to his final games."

Screen Shot 2021-03-02 at 1.40.17 PM

Two gas trucks collide in Stearns County, neither explodes

The unlikely collision happened Monday afternoon.

unnamed (1)

MSP Airport expecting spring break to be busiest period since pandemic began

Passenger numbers will still be about a third lower than a year ago, though.

Target store

After bumper earnings, Target will accelerate new store openings

The retailer has revealed its plans for the next few years, which includes an investment in Minneapolis.

starbucks wayzata

100% plant-based restaurant coming to Wayzata this spring

The restaurant has plans to add additional locations in Minnesota this summer and franchise nationwide.

Patric Richardson

'Laundry Evangelist' from St. Paul gets his own Discovery+ show

Patric Richardson has built a career around the appreciation and care of clothing.

All Energy Solar Residential Installation

End 'renting' from your utility company and go solar

A solar installation is one of the few home improvements that actually pays for itself.

State Capitol.

Minnesota Republicans looking to make PPP loans exempt from state taxes

Congress made PPP loans exempt from federal taxes late last year.

kate knuth

Former DFL state Rep. Knuth announces run for Minneapolis mayor

She is among those challenging Mayor Frey in November.


Delta announces direct flights between Twin Cities and Seoul

It becomes Delta's second direct route to Asia from MSP.