The state's monthly estimates of arrivals by air show 3,023,448 arrivals from January 1 through the end of May, compared to 2,947,139 in the same five months of 2009.
Arrivals include returning locals, often figured to be something like 10% to 13% of the total, which would mean actual visitors would hit 3 million in a week or two.
In May. arrivals were up 3.2%, state researchers estimated Wednesday, with a 1.1% decline in domestic arrivals more than offset by a 26% rebound in Japanese arrivals. In May 2009, arrivals from Japan plunged on swine flu fears.
The state's rolling three-month count of airline capacity, now updated to cover June, July and August, suggests the tourism industry will be able to improve its fortunes over the summer.
Capacity will be up more than 6% from the same three months last year, including more seats from Japan, from U.S. West, and from U.S. East.
Mainland airlines appear to have shifted flights so that more passengers transfer at LAX. Los Angeles capacity is up significantly while seats are down from United's hub in Denver, Continental's hub in Houston, and Delta's hubs in Atlanta, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.
This means someone who formerly flew from from one of these hubs to Honolulu, then flew Hawaiian to another island, might instead transfer at LAX and fly their mainland carrier the entire distance.
But nonstop connections from all those hubs to Hawaii can still be made, and direct air capacity from Chicago O'Hare, a corridor served by both United and American, has increased.
Photo source: Jutka T. Emoke Barabas