Japan fully reopened its borders last fall. Now Delta Air Lines will begin shuttling travelers to the country's capital once again from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The Atlanta-based carrier will make a major move this weekend toward fully restored operations at MSP, resuming daily nonstop flights to Tokyo's Haneda International Airport.
The direct flight from MSP to Tokyo will depart Saturday on Delta's new Airbus A330-900neo aircraft. A direct flight from Tokyo to MSP will arrive Sunday. These will be the first flights directly between the two countries since the pandemic grounded international travel. In fact, this was one of the first MSP routes canceled in early 2020 because of COVID-19.
Upon arrival at Haneda airport, travelers will find a Delta Sky Club, which opened last year as the only U.S. airline lounge there. Delta, the dominant carrier at MSP, also offers service between Tokyo Haneda and Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta and Detroit.
Delta's chief executive Ed Bastian said last year he expected to see full service restored at MSP by this summer.
Service to Asia has been slow to resume because of strict pandemic shutdowns there. Delta's service to Seoul from Minneapolis-St. Paul restarted just last fall.
The MSP to Tokyo service has a long history. The former Northwest Orient launched it in 1947 as the nation's first commercial air service to Japan. The advent of this route prompted the addition of "International" to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport's name. Delta later acquired what became known as Northwest Airlines in a 2008 merger.
A significant change occurred in early 2020 when Delta stopped flying to Tokyo's Narita International Airport, which was the main Asian hub of Minnesota-based Northwest Airlines for 30 years.
Delta started breaking apart the Narita-based hub in 2016 because it lacked a partner carrier in Japan and experienced rising demand for flights between the U.S. and other places in Asia.
In the period leading up to the pandemic, Delta gradually reshaped its transpacific routes with more nonstops from U.S. cities to South Korea and China. It added direct flights between MSP and Seoul and built a deeper partnership with Korean Air that allows passengers starting in the U.S. to connect through Seoul to other Asian destinations.
Delta is MSP's largest global carrier, offering nonstop service to several international destinations, including Amsterdam, Paris, Seoul, Cancun, Mexico City, Montréal, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.