By Ben Mutzabaugh; USA Today
Delta Air Lines will add a new route to Asia from its hub at Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP).
The carrier announced on Wednesday that non-stop flights connecting MSP to South Korea’s Seoul/Incheon airport would begin sometime next year. Delta did not reveal a specific start date, but its plans for a Minnesota-Seoul route follow the recent final approval for a joint-venture partnership with South Korean carrier Korean Air.
Such partnerships exempt participating carriers from antitrust laws, allowing them to coordinate flights and fares while also selling seats on each other’s flights. Delta has a number of other joint-venture partnerships, including with AeroMexico, Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic.
The “JV” with Korean Air will give Delta new options to sell seats in Asia thanks to Korean’s hub in Seoul.
“Delta’s future is global and adding another non-stop flight to the joint venture’s Seoul-Incheon hub with Korean Air expands on our long-term vision,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement announcing the company’s plans for a Minnesota-Seoul route. “This will be a great driver of international commerce for the Minneapolis/St. Paul community and the State of Minnesota, as well as benefiting our customers, our employees and our owners.”
Delta plans to fly the route with Boeing 777-200ER aircraft that are set to get a cabin overhaul. That update will include Delta’s new Delta One suites and its new international-style premium economy seats.
The Seoul route would become Delta’s second trans-Pacific non-stop flight from MSP. The airline already flies from MSP to Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Delta said it plans to begin flying its refurbished 777-200ERs on that route, too, starting sometime next year.
For now, MSP lauded the new international link.
“This is the first direct service between MSP International Airport and South Korea, and we are thrilled Delta Air Lines has decided to provide it,” Brian Ryks, CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission that operates MSP, said in a statement. “Travelers can connect to dozens of other cities throughout Southeast Asia through Seoul’s Incheon Airport, providing Twin Cities businesses with easy access to customers and clients in critical growing markets.”