HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Australia, Philippines, and now possibly Japan - Hawaiian Airlines is aiming for Tokyo.
If it gets the federal ok, it'll be the company's third overseas leg in the last five years.
Hawaiian Airlines applied on Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
If DOT says yes, Hawaiian Air will offer non-stop flights twice daily between the Honolulu International Airport and Tokyo.
Hawaiian's wings are growing, with flights to Sydney in 2005, Manila in 2008, and now, the airline's new target is Haneda airport, which is just 11 miles from Tokyo versus 40 miles from Narita International Airport to the city.
So Japanese tourists won't have to go as far to fly to Hawaii.
"It really will add a lot of stimulus to the local economy," said Hawaiian Air President & CEO Mark Dunkerly.
Dunkerly has been piloting the company through a rapid expansion.
In his quest to fly non-stop to Haneda, he's competing with American, Delta, United and Continental Airlines. But he thinks Hawaiian has a good chance.
"First of all we don't serve Japan today, we're a new entrant, we'll foster competition like no other applicant possibly could," said Dunkerly.
And this is just the latest bold move in a sour economy.
In the middle of the recession, Hawaiian has been busy ordering 27 new planes, launching new flights and marketing campaigns.
Last year, the airline made $117 million.
2009 was also when Hawaiian started piling on extra fees for checked baggage, reservation changes, and fuel costs.
With Hawaiian doing so well, will customers see that end?
"It'll depend on the market, it'll depend on what competitors do. Airline pricing, whether it's ticket pricing or bag pricing is really set in the heat of competition...Right now the market determines that it's important to have the lowest possible ticket price and to charge for ancillary services like carrying bags," said Dunkerly.
In other words, don't count on it anytime soon.
Hawaiian also doesn't plan to close its call center in Manila and move operator jobs back to Hawaii.
"No, we're generally very pleased with all the decisions we've made over the last few years including that one," said Dunkerly.
Its next big move is to add new flights beyond Tokyo, though Hawaiian won't reveal where in Asia.
Hawaiian says it expects to find out if it landed federal approval for Haneda by May.
If it's a go, the new flights begin in October.
Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.
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