Hawaii officials hope to replace JAL flights to Kona - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii officials hope to replace JAL flights to Kona

By Howard Dicus - bio | email

HILO, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii officials say they hope to get Japan Airlines to reconsider its decision to end Kona service, or find another carrier to do it.

JAL is pulling out of a number of markets including Rome, Milan, Amsterdam, Sao Paolo and Bali, and said Wednesday it will end direct Kona flights on Oct. 30.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi said he hoped tourism officials could find another airline to fill the void, since the service brought more than 90,000 visitors to the Big Island last year.

One possibility is the other major Japanese carrier, All-Nippon Airways, which has indicated in general terms that it will at least consider moving into selected routes abandoned by JAL. United and Delta also have flights from Japan to Hawaii.

Hawaii Tourism Authority President Mike McCartney said he hoped JAL would quickly reconsider its decision and restore the service.

Since the service will not be canceled until after the summer, JAL will then have additional data on demand for the service, which could be affected by such diverse factors as the Japanese economy, Kona hotel room rates, and the strength of the yen, which Thursday was trading at 94 to the dollar.

The decision to end the Kona service, even after Hawaii tourism officials flew to Tokyo and offered marketing funds and package deals, appeared to be more about soaring jet fuel bills than passenger counts. The route drew 4% more passengers last year than the year before.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly