Delta expands Seattle’s international routes

By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly

Stretch out on the way to Hong Kong

Delta Air Lines’ ambitious agenda will put Seattle on the global map.

Delta will be the only airline flying non-stop flight daily from Seattle to Hong Kong beginning June 16.

“We are excited and very pleased with Delta’s non-stop flight to Hong Kong,” said Tay Yoshitani, CEO of the Port of Seattle. “We have been internally hoping for a non-stop flight to Hong Kong many years.”

Hong Kong is a major city, and with Delta’s connecting flights domestic and international, it will better serve passengers with many options, said Yoshitani.

In addition, Delta is also flying non-stop from Seattle to Beijing, Shanghai-Pudong, Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, Hong Kong, Seoul, Amsterdam, Paris, and London.

“Delta is committed to building Seattle as their hub,” said Kazue Ishiwata, senior manager of Air Service Development for Port of Seattle expert. “With Hong Kong, they will have 9 wide-body flights daily this summer to Asia and Europe.”

Why Hong Kong?

“Delta has selected Seattle in America as the ‘Gateway to Asia’, ” said Yoshitani.

Seattle has the shortest distance to Hong Kong and Narita-Tokyo, compared to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“Delta is the only carrier providing non-stop service to multiple countries throughout Asia from Seattle,” said Mike Medeiros, Delta’s vice president, “and we intend to grow that presence with the addition of Seoul on June 2 and Hong Kong on June 16.

“Both countries have growing economies that lend themselves well to the need for additional air service from Seattle. However Hong Kong provides a unique opportunity for Delta as we will be the only carrier in the world to serve Hong Kong directly from Seattle, and we look forward to providing our award-winning service and on-board products to those who want and expect more from an airline.”

According to Medeiros, its Seattle office would mean a significant investment from the company.

Five years ago, the operation employed fewer than 100 people. Last year, it increased to 1,500 people. Delta has increased its Seattle staff to 2,060, which include customer service, sales, pilots, mechanics, and flight attendants.

As America’s largest international carrier, Delta will have 86 airplanes’ peak departures daily from Sea-Tac International Airport.

Airbus, not Boeing

By using Airbus A330-200 to fly to Hong Kong, Delta offers 234 seats — 34 business class, 32 economy comfort, and 168 economy seats. Medeiros said the plane is redesigned to fit a much more spacious section in the business class.

Both United and Northwest had flown Seattle non-stop to Hong Kong, but discontinued. United ended in the 1980s. Northwest picked up the route in 1994, but ended after three years. In those days, the Boeing 747 was the only aircraft they could use, which was a very expensive aircraft to operate and which had nearly 400 seats to fill — too large for Seattle.

According to Ishiwata, neither United nor Northwest had the sufficient connections in Seattle needed to support the route at the time. Delta’s new Seattle-Hong Kong service is expected to have almost 60 percent connecting passengers at Seattle, she said.

What’s new

The selection of in-flight entertainment is huge, said Delta’s Medeiros. Through satellite request, flyers can enjoy a variety to choose from. Even passengers in the economy class can take advantage of the wide range of entertainment.

Award-winning chef Michael Chiarello will head the food department for its international flights.

In February, Delta launched a double-miles promotion for Seattle-based SkyMiles members. Customers who book and fly Delta, or Delta Connection marketed and operated flights, from Seattle by Dec. 31, 2014, will be awarded double miles and double Medallion Qualification Miles on the nonstop segment departing from or arriving into Seattle. Increased mileage means you can get Delta’s upgrades and free travel faster.

Those who had to transfer planes in the past to get to Hong Kong from Seattle can now save at least three hours and 23 minutes flying time. With Delta’s non-stop flights to Hong Kong there’s no need to worry about delays while changing planes. Non-English speakers won’t have to deal with security screens during transfer, either.

Delta’s Seattle-Hong Kong flight will depart daily from Seattle at 2:24 p.m., and arrive in Hong Kong at 7:35 p.m. the next day. It will depart from Hong Kong at 10:25 a.m. and arrive in Seattle 8:18 a.m. on the same day.

This year, Delta was named the 2014 Airline of the Year by Air Transport World magazine and was named to Fortune magazine’s top 50 Most Admired Companies. Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 333 destinations in 64 countries on six continents. (end)

Assunta Ng can be reached at assunta@nwasianweekly.com.

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