By Howard Dicus
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Already flying to Tokyo and Osaka, Hawaiian Airlines says it will begin daily service to Fukuoka in April, Japanese regulators permitting, creating hundreds of jobs.
Hawaiian announced its plans Tuesday as its chief financial officer was briefing investors on the mainland. The announcement also came within days of Delta Air Lines unveiling its own plans for seasonal service between Fukuoka and Honolulu.
Hawaiian plans to hire more than 400 new employees including pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and customer service personnel, most of whom will be based in Hawaii.
"Demand for our services in Japan from Tokyo and Osaka has been extremely strong, and we are responding to similar demand for Hawaii from the travel community in Fukuoka," CEO Mark Dunkerley said. "Our new Fukuoka flights will expand Hawaiian's reach into an entirely new region of Japan."
Fukuoka may be the oldest city in Japan, and recently was ranked 14th in a list of the world's nicest cities. It is in the far southwestern corner of Japan, with connecting flights to several other Japanese prefectures that have no direct air connections to Hawaii, including Okinawa. One million people live in the city center but the surrounding prefecture has 13 million residents.
Daily flights from a third Japanese city will add about 100,000 new seats to Hawaii airlift, said Mike McCartney, CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, who estimates the economic impact will be $154 million in annual visitor spending and $16.8 million in annual tax revenue.