HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian Airlines is breaking into the Japanese market by flying to Tokyo's Haneda Airport, which is about half-an-hour outside the capital. This first flight takes off at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday evening and will arrive in Japan at 10:00 Thursday night.
Hawaii News Now wanted to see how smooth the new route would go, so we've got journalist Oscar Valenzuela getting ready to board the flight. He'll be on flying to Tokyo and will report back to us about the trip.
Moments ago, he sent us pictures from the departure gate where tourism officials had a send-off that included both Hawaiian and Japanese traditions.
Hawaiian Airlines is one of only three U.S. airlines, including American and Delta, that was given approval by the Japanese government to land at Haneda. The airport just built a fourth runway and opened up business to those companies for the first time in three decades.
Hawaiian's Boeing 767 can carry up to 264 passengers, bringing that many more visitors to Hawaii's shores, and while it operates only one, non-stop flight daily, the company hopes to expand service by eventually using bigger planes and flying to cities like Osaka and Fukuoka.
Hawaiian Airlines' officials call this inaugural flight a "big victory" for the company, but it's still going to face some tough competition because Japan Airlines and all Nippon Airways are also planning daily flights from Honolulu to Haneda.
Hawaiian Airlines will, no doubt, be tested.
At 6:00 p.m. we'll show you the "edge" that the company believes it has over those other airlines, and what special services it plans to offer when east meets west.
By the way, a roundtrip, economy ticket will run you about $900 to $1,000.
Our Oscar Valenzuela is taking that inaugural flight Wednesday night.
Then we're turning him right back around!
Stay tuned to Hawaii News Now for his special report from Tokyo, Thursday night at 5:00 p.m.