Delta launching flights to Seoul from Atlanta

Delta Air Lines will launch flights from Atlanta to Seoul starting next June, adding to the route operated by its partner Korean Air.

Atlanta-based Delta will operate daily Atlanta-Seoul flights on 291-seat Boeing 777-200LR jets starting June 3.

Korean Air already operates daily Seoul-Atlanta flights on Boeing 777-300ER jets. Delta already operates flights to Seoul from Detroit and Seattle.

But from Atlanta, Delta currently operates only one route to Asia: Daily flights to Tokyo Narita airport.

Korean Air and Delta have been partners since the founding of the SkyTeam Alliance in 2000.

As Delta adds the new flights to Seoul, it is expanding its “code-share” marketing agreement with Korean Air, which will enable passengers to connect through Seoul to 32 other destinations in Asia.

The move comes as Delta pares back its Asia hub at Tokyo Narita airport, amid the rollout of a new U.S.-Japan aviation agreement that allows more competition from U.S. airlines in Tokyo at closer-in Haneda Airport. Delta is discontinuing flights from Tokyo Narita to Osaka and Bangkok, for example.

With the Tokyo hub on the decline, Delta customers can instead use connections through Korean Air’s hub at Seoul Incheon International Airport to get from Atlanta to different parts of Asia.

The expanded code-share marketing with Korean Air later this year will include flights to Taipei, Osaka, Singapore, Nagoya and Okinawa, subject to government approvals. Korean Air will also add its code to more Delta flights.

Delta competes against United Airlines and American Airlines in expanding its international presence, with Asia as one of the key battlegrounds.

Delta’s international president Steve Sear said in a written statement that the new Delta route to Seoul and the expanded partnership with Korean Air “solidifies our joint position as leading carriers in the U.S.-Asia market.” He called Seoul’s Incheon International Airport “one of the premier gateways to Asia.”