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Delta is pulling out of Nagoya, leaving Japanese city with no flights from North America

Jan. 24, 2023
4 min read
Delta is pulling out of Nagoya, leaving Japanese city with no flights from North America
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The "Detroit of Japan" will no longer be just a nonstop flight away from the Detroit in Michigan.

Delta Air Lines filed plans over the weekend to cut its 6,552-mile nonstop "Motor Town Express" route between Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) and Chubu Centrair International Airport (NGO) in Nagoya, Japan, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.

Delta's final flight from Detroit to Nagoya will take off on Feb. 27, and return back to the U.S. on Feb. 28.

Delta is giving just about a month's notice before removing this route-map pin from its network. Travelers booked on the route will receive a full refund or reaccommodation on other Delta and SkyTeam alliance flights from the region.

CIRIUM

With the move, Delta will leave the Japanese city without any transpacific service, ending a long-served route that the airline inherited from Northwest Airlines back when the two carriers officially merged in late 2009.

That said, Nagoya will remain connected to the U.S. with service to Honolulu on Japan Airlines. United Airlines flies between its hub in Guam and Nagoya, too.

Delta and its predecessors have had a storied history in Nagoya. Northwest began serving this Japanese city from Detroit in 1998, according to historical archives. Meanwhile, Delta first flew to Nagoya back in 1991, though that flight from Portland was later scrapped, according to Airline Maps.

In the following years, Northwest continued to build and restructure its presence in Nagoya.

Other Delta changes in Japan: Sayonara, Narita: The rise and fall of Delta’s Tokyo hub

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With the Northwest merger, Delta inherited Northwest's flights from Nagoya to Detroit, Guam, Manila and Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. Delta boosted its presence in this Japanese city with the addition of nonstop flights to Honolulu in December 2010.

In fact, Delta was operating nine daily flights to and from Nagoya at its peak in March 2011.

But it wasn't long thereafter that Delta started chipping away at its presence in Nagoya, ending service to Manila in 2014, followed by Saipan in 2015 and Guam in 2016, according to Cirium schedules.

That left service to Honolulu and Detroit as the two remaining Delta flights to Nagoya. The Hawaii route ended abruptly in March 2020 at the outset of the pandemic, and the Detroit service was suspended then too.

Only one route reemerged from the pandemic, and it was the nonstop flight from Detroit, which resumed in April 2021 with once-weekly service aboard the airline's flagship Airbus A350-900.

Things were looking promising late last year when Delta increased the frequency on the Detroit to Nagoya long-haul route to three times a week, but that optimism was seemingly shortlived as the airline is now calling it quits entirely in the market.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Without an official comment from Delta — the airline declined to provide one — as to the reason for the cut, it's likely that the carrier can no longer make the economics work.

Nagoya is known as a major hub of the Japanese auto industry, with Toyota's worldwide headquarters and manufacturing facilities located nearby. Meanwhile, Detroit, or "Motor City," was the birthplace of America's biggest car companies: Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.

Delta's nonstop flight likely relied heavily on the premium-cabin demand from automobile executives and other industry players traveling between the two cities for meetings, conferences and special events. Now that the pandemic has changed the norms for internet-based meetings and conferences, it's possible that Delta isn't seeing robust demand on the route like it did before the pandemic.

Either way, it's an unfortunate ending for Delta's presence in Japan's fourth-most-populous city.

Without Nagoya, the Atlanta-based carrier will consolidate all of its Japanese operations to Haneda Airport (HND) in Tokyo, where it operates a brand-new Sky Club.

Delta's network from Haneda includes service to Atlanta, Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Portland and Seattle.

More on Delta from TPG:

Featured image by ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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