Japan Airlines cuts Hawaii flights a third

By Howard Dicus - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With traffic plunging in a time of crisis, Japan Airlines is slashing international capacity, and plans in April to cut back from three daily Hawaii flights to two.

On the day it emerged from bankruptcy, JAL announced it would suspend 74 weekly flights on 11 international routes. It is also cutting back flights to Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Pusan, and switching to smaller jets for flights to Guam.

The cutbacks to Shanghai and Seoul, like those to Honolulu, will be from three flights a day to two; to the other cities JAL will go from two flights a day to one. Most, including the Honolulu route, will be cut from April 6 to April 27, JAL said.

"The Hawai'i Tourism Authority understands the difficult decision," the state tourism body said Monday. "We remain committed to working with JAL on efforts to drive demand and reinstate air seats to Hawai'i when appropriate."

HTA said it projected a shortfall in targeted arrivals from Japan, anticipating a decision like this.

The president of JAL said Monday international traffic is down 25 percent since the earthquake, tsunami and radiation crises and domestic traffic is down 28 percent.

"We cannot be optimistic," Masaru Onishi said. "Reservations are not growing, due to worries and uncertainty about the nuclear plants."

The cutbacks came as JAL completed court-supervised restructuring under Japanese bankruptcy law, completing the repayment of almost 400 billion yen in debt, currently commensurate with almost $4.9 billion.

The reorganization requires laying off 16,000 employees by the end of this month, canceling almost 50 routes, and idling more than 100 jets. The temporary scaling back of the other routes is in addition to that.

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