HILO, Hawaii – The Hawaii County Council voted to support a nonstop airflight between Kona and Tokyo, Japan on Wednesday (Feb. 4).
Resolution 46-15 supports Hawaiian Airlines’ federal application for this nonstop route.
Craig Shiroma, Hawaiian’s District Sales Manager for the Island of Hawaii, was on hand to represent the airline.
It was roughly five years ago when the final direct flight to and from Japan took off from Kona. Ever since that time, state and county officials have been trying to bring the direct flights back to the Big Island, which would bring with it considerable economic impact.
Here is the media release from Hawaiian Airlines on the application, issued on January 5, 2015:
Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. today filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to begin daily, non-stop service this summer between Tokyo International Airport at Haneda (HND) and Kona International Airport (KOA) on Hawai’i Island. The airline’s action was prompted by the U.S. DOT’s decision last month to review the public interest served by Delta Air Lines’ Seattle-Tokyo route after Delta reduced its frequency from daily to seasonal.
In its application, Hawai’i’s flagship carrier urged the U.S. DOT to reallocate Delta’s Haneda frequency based on market data, noting that Hawaiian Airlines’ Honolulu-Tokyo service has been “by far the most, if not only, successful route” of the four Haneda slot pairs granted to U.S. carriers in 2010.
“Kona continues to be a top destination for Japanese travelers, and we are more certain than ever that direct service to West Hawai’i is the highest and best use for the scarce Haneda slots that are at stake here,” said Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “This route would provide unmatched public benefit by improving U.S. exports, boosting spending and economic growth within the United States and increasing U.S. jobs.”
The Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) estimates that the proposed daily service will generate 531,721 visitor days and $146 million in visitor expenditures. Hawaiian Airlines’ application calculates that service directly to Kona will attract 39,000 additional visitors and result in 1,151 new jobs and $65 million in new direct spending.
The application has the full support of Governor David Ige and Hawai’i Island Mayor Billy Kenoi.
“The increase in visitor days and corresponding visitor expenditures this route would provide will also generate significant and positive impact not only on our local economy, but on the economy of the United States,” noted Gov. Ige. “It is good news for the State that Hawaiian Airlines is actively pursuing this route, and we hope the Department of Transportation will favorably consider Hawaiian Airlines’ application.”
“The County of Hawai’i would welcome the opportunity to host an additional 39,000 visitors from Japan,” said Mayor Kenoi. “Our Island has had a strong relationship with Japanese visitors for many years, and we are confident that this route will be a commercial success. We are thankful that Hawaiian Airlines remains committed to our island and our residents, and we will work with our Federal and State counterparts to ensure this route’s success.”
As it has with past applications, Hawaiian Airlines will be seeking petition signatures and letters of support for the route from all communities of Hawai’i. Petitions are available online at the airline’s online advocacy webpage: Action.HawaiianAir.com.
If approved, this would be Hawaiian Airlines’ fifth Japan route and third daily non-stop flight between Japan and Hawai’i, joining daily service to Honolulu from Tokyo and Osaka and thrice-weekly service between Honolulu, Sendai and Sapporo. Hawaiian Airlines anticipates it will begin service on or about June 1, 2015, utilizing its fleet of 20 294-seat A330-200 aircraft. The departure and arrival times will vary depending on time of year.
Although the United States-Japan Bilateral agreement is generally “open skies,” allowing maximum operational flexibility, the governments of the U.S. and Japan are each entitled to allocate only four slot pairs (round-trip routes) out of Haneda International Airport. Hawaiian Airlines was one of three U.S. airlines granted the authority to operate daily service between Haneda and the U.S. in 2010. Hawaiian became the first to inaugurate service, launching daily flights from Haneda to Honolulu in November of that year.
Earlier this year, after Delta Air Lines reduced the frequency of its Haneda-Seattle service from daily to seasonal, American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines appealed to the U.S. DOT to reopen the grant of authority and consider reallocating the slot pair awarded to Delta. In December, the U.S. DOT found it is in the public interest to reopen the grant of authority.
About Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian® has led all U.S. carriers in on-time performance for each of the past 10 years (2004-2013) as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Consumer surveys by Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Zagat have all ranked Hawaiian the highest of all domestic airlines serving Hawai’i.
Now in its 86th year of continuous service, Hawaiian is Hawai’i’s biggest and longest-serving airline, as well as the largest provider of passenger air service from its primary visitor markets on the U.S. Mainland. Hawaiian offers non-stop service to Hawai’i from more U.S. gateway cities (11) than any other airline, along with service from Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa and Tahiti. Hawaiian also provides approximately 160 jet flights daily between the Hawaiian Islands, with a total of more than 200 daily flights system-wide.Hawaiian Airlines on Jan. 5, 2015