By Jim Mendoza - bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -- The site of a Japan Airlines jet landing at the Kona International Airport ends at the end of October.
The carrier is canceling its Big Island route..
"It's a big impact to the Big Island. We're very concerned," Hawaii Tourism Authority vice president David Uchiyama said.
The Kona flight carries an average of 6,500 Japanese visitors a month from Narita to Kona.
The loss will cost Big Island businesses like Kona snorkel company Fair Wind Cruises. It anticipates revenue to sink five to seven percent.
"Five to seven percent is huge. The Japanese visitor, everybody loves them because they typically spend more money than our mainland visitors," Fair Wind's marketing manager Penn Henderson said.
The Big Island flight is one of fifteen international routes JAL's cutting as it builds back from bankruptcy.
But about the time Japan Airlines stops flying to Kona it begins a new route from Tokyo's Haneda airport to Honolulu.
"What happens there is Haneda is a much more centralized location within Japan," Uchiyama said.
That will fold in nicely with Waikiki businesses who market themselves to Japanese, like specialty store 88 Tees.
"I'd say probably ninety percent is Japanese customers. Maybe five percent is from the mainland and five percent is from locals," retail specialist Joe Heaukulani said.
Bankruptcy's causing Japan Airlines to lay off over 16,000 workers.
"There are many carriers that are going through similar restructuring to become more efficient and this is a step necessary for Japan Airlines at this time," Uchiyama said.
The final JAL to Kona flight ends fifteen years of daily service to the Big Island.
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