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Originally published October 20, 2009 at 2:29 PM | Page modified October 21, 2009 at 9:00 AM

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Delta adding new non-stop flights to Asia from Seattle

Seattle will gain new nonstop air service to Beijing and Osaka, Japan, next year as well as additional summer flights to Amsterdam as part of a plan by Delta Air Lines to expand its international service in the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle Times travel writer

Seattle will gain new nonstop air service to Beijing and Osaka, Japan, next year as well as additional summer flights to Amsterdam as part of a plan by Delta Air Lines to expand its international service in the Pacific Northwest.

Delta said Tuesday it will add daily nonstops between Osaka and Seattle starting June 7 and fly five times a week to Beijing beginning June 4. Both routes will be serviced by Boeing 767-300 jets seating 217 passengers.

The airline will add three additional nonstops a week to Amsterdam between June 1 and September. It now has one nonstop a day. Those flights had been operated by Northwest Airlines, now part of Atlanta-based Delta.

Delta's announcement is seen as an economic boost for Seattle and Northwest businesses with trade ties to Asia.

"This is excellent news for our state," Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement Tuesday. "China and Japan are two of our top export markets. These new direct flights will help expand trade with Asia, bringing more jobs and economic development to Washington. The new flight to Japan will also directly connect us with Hyogo Prefecture, Washington's sister state in Japan."

Northwest had planned to start nonstop service between Beijing and Seattle last March but delayed the flights, citing the poor economy.

Delta's plans to start the flights next year with smaller planes — Northwest had planned to use an Airbus A330 seating 244 — mean there will be two airlines competing on the Seattle-Beijing route. China-based Hainan Airlines began nonstops from Seattle in 2008.

Delta will continue Northwest's daily nonstop service between Seattle and Tokyo-Narita. The Osaka flight will be Delta's only nonstop to that city, said spokesman Kent Landers.

"It's a very large market in terms of business and leisure travel. We believe there is enough demand from the U.S. to support a nonstop."

The new Asia flights will be timed for connections with flights on Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, a Delta partner.

Seattle has picked up several new nonstop international routes in the past few years. Including Delta's new flights, eight new international services have been added at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport since 2007, including nonstops to Paris; Mexico City; San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico; Frankfurt, Germany; Beijing; and Reykjavik, Iceland.

Carol Pucci: cpucci@seattletimes.com

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