HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaiian Airlines adds 100,000 annual seats to Hawaii airlift with its Honolulu-Fukuoka service beginning Monday.
Fukuoka is a city of more than 1 million people on the island of Kyushu, at the far southwest end of Japan's main land masses, facing Korea. For the 13 million who live on Kyushu, the new service makes it possible to visit Hawaii with losing a day getting to Tokyo or Osaka.
While the airlines does not expect the level of business it commands on its Tokyo and Osaka routes, an airline official told HawaiiNewsNow that bookings so far are in line with the company's projections.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority estimates that the new route will inject $154 million per year into the island economy.
Hawaiian Flight 453, after taking off at 1:20 p.m. HST, was to arrive in Tokyo in early evening (after crossing the International Date Line, making it Tuesday), with the redeye return flight arriving in Honolulu on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. HST.
Hawaiian is beginning the route with a 264-seat Boeing 767-300 E.R. but intends to later change out that plane for a new Airbus A330-200 that seats 30 more passengers. By the end of this year Hawaiian will have nine Airbus jets with more to come.
Hawaiian launches Tokyo Haneda service in November 2010, service to Seoul in January 2011, and service to Osaka last summer. To accommodate these and other route expansions, Hawaiian has hired more than 400 employees in recent months including more than 50 pilots and more than 200 flight attendants, most of them based in Hawaii.
CEO Mark Dunkerley has indicated that there will be a further expansion announcement in the second half of this year, after service begins to New York JFK in June.