HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Starting this week, Hawaii has three flights a day from Tokyo's close-in Haneda airport, with separate airlines hoping Haneda's greater convenience will be good for bookings.
Hawaiian Airlines got the headlines with its launch last week of daily Haneda service, the first time Hawaiian has ever had scheduled service to Japan. Hawaiian says bookings are already strong through the end of the year and beyond.
But Japan Airlines and All-Nippon Airways, which previously flew to Hawaii from Narita International. an hour and a half out of downtown Tokyo, each shifted one daily flight to Haneda earlier this month.
Before that, ANA ran regular charters from Haneda to Hawaii in alliance with JTB (Japan Travel Bureau) from mid-July through the end of August. Officials said the charters were mostly sold out.
There is even speculation in Japan that the country's discount carrier Skymark, which has ordered several Airbus superjumbo jets for delivery in three years, may also be eyeing Hawaii.
Hawaiian, JAL and ANA all use the same model jetliner in the corridor - Boeing 767-300ERs - though Hawaiian plans to switch to Airbus A330-200s later on. The Boeing jets seat about 270; the Airbus jets will have more seats.
Japanese arrivals to Hawaii this month are down 3% from last year and could come in under 100,000 unless the new Hawaiian service provides a bump. Japan arrivals have not topped 4,000 on any day since Oct. 16 and have been below 3,500 most days in November.
Overall arrivals by air have been up 12% so far this month because of heightened West Coast traffic.