Starting this fall, Delta Air Lines Inc. will cut the number of flights it offers between the United States and China — a route it fought to get for years.

The carrier projects that demand for its flights between Atlanta and Shanghai, which it began offering March 31, won't be as strong this winter as it is now. It plans to return to its current schedule on the route next spring.

Asked Friday if the soaring cost of fuel played a role in the decision, Delta spokesman Kent Landers said, "Fuel has an impact on the entire network, and we watch that very closely. But this is a situation where we're matching the right profile to the market and especially what we're expecting in the winter."

He said Delta received permission from the Department of Transportation to fly between Atlanta and Shanghai five days a week, instead of the current seven days a week, starting Nov. 7. Landers said the schedule would return to normal in May 2009.