The U.S. and Japanese governments have postponed negotiations over access to one of Tokyo's airports that Delta Air Lines said could threaten Minneapolis-St. Paul's only nonstop flight to Asia.
The talks were scheduled for Tuesday, but a Delta spokeswoman said the U.S. Department of Transportation decided late Friday to postpone the negotiations, but said officials did not provide details.
"We don’t know the reason, but understand they are looking for new dates that would work for both negotiating teams," said Kate Modolo, a Delta spokeswoman, in an email.
The countries are discussing whether to open 10 more slots for U.S. airlines at Tokyo’s close-in airport, called Haneda. Delta says its rivals, American and United airlines, would benefit more from such a move because both have a Japanese partner airline.
Delta sounded the alarm last month, telling the Metrpolitan Airports Commision that it may be forced to cancel its daily flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Tokyo, which was started by Northwest Orient in 1947 and was the nation’s first commercial air service to Japan, if the negotiations proceeded as planned.
The airline, which picked up the MSP route along with a hub at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport in its 2009 acquisition of Northwest Airlines, said its operations would “quickly unravel” if the deal is approved.
Minnesota politicians, including Gov. Mark Dayton, petitioned the Department last week to reconsider its course of action, saying it would be unfair to Minnesota businesses and the state's economy.