Hawaiian Air's new service to Fukuoka takes off

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian Airlines continued its strategic "expansion" roll at Honolulu International Airport on Monday. Hawaii's biggest and longest serving airline opened its third route into Japan Monday morning with new daily, non-stop service to Fukuoka, Japan, opening a new gateway for visitors to make their way to the islands.

Hawaiian hula and traditional Japanese dance came together to celebrate the new route that aims to bring Hawaii and Japan even closer together. A traditional blessing ceremony with the untying of maile lei took place at the Interisland terminal's Gate 34-B ahead of Flight 453's 10 a.m. departure.

"Hawaii and Fukuoka have a very strong bond. We have history together," said Ann Botticelli, senior vice-president for Hawaiian Airlines Communications. "Many, many families in Hawaii have relatives from Fukuoka or Kyushu, the island that Fukuoka is a part of. My own family came from Kumumoto, so it's really nice to be able to connect those two."

The new Fukuoka route marks Hawaiian Air's third destination in Japan and its fourth expanded service into Asia in the past 17 months. According to tourism officials, it will help feed Hawaii's second largest visitor market that comes from Japan.

Among Monday's inaugural passengers were former Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi and his wife, Jean. In 1981, Ariyoshi established Hawaii's first sister-state relationship with Fukuoka where many of his relatives are from.

"I'm grateful to Hawaiian Airlines," said AriyoshiI. "I think it's going to be good economics for Hawaiian also. I think there are many people who fly from Fukuoka to Narita who can now fly directly and so I'm very pleased."

Busy Mom, Miho Prather had her arms full of bags, a stroller and her young child. She's headed for Nagasaki. For her, the new non-stop service was a blessing.

"I have had to go thru Fukuoka before," said Prather. "And now I can go thru Fukuoka directly and then catch just a ride with family. Its way easier."  

Hawaiian Airlines' new flight to Fukuoka, Japan is estimated to generate $156 million in visitor spending in the islands a year and $17 million in tax revenues.

To promote the new service in Japan, Hawaiian Air is sending some of its best ambassadors of aloha. Ten-year-old ukulele phenom, Aidan James, played at JFK airport when the airline first announced its historic East Coast route that will run in June. James has a busy schedule once he lands.

"We check into the hotel, said James. "Then we have a concert and the next day we have a concert again."

Tourism officials say the new Fukuoka route will carry an estimated 100,000 more visitors to Hawaii a year.

Travel agent Jamie Hui of PCS Travel said the new Fukuoka route has generated quite a buzz in the travel industry as they watch Hawaiian Air work to fulfill its strategic plan to move passengers quickly between major destinations in the East, and West, all with stops in the islands.

"And don't forget," said Hui. "Hawaiian Airlines is going to have non-stop to New York. Everything that can connect to the West Coast from Japan, to Hawaii, make a stopover and then go to USA.

Hawaiian Airlines most recent launches include service to Tokyo (November 2010), Seoul (January 2011) and Osaka (July 2011).

After Monday's inaugural flight departure, Hawaiian Airlines Flight #453 will depart Honolulu daily to Fukuoka, Japan at 1:30 p.m. and arrive in Fukuoka at 7:00 p.m. the next day. The return Flight #454 departs Fukuoka daily at 9 p.m. and arrives in Honolulu at 10:20 a.m. the same day. (Fukuoka is 19 hours ahead of Honolulu and the flight crosses the International Dateline.)

According to the carrier, it will initially operate the Honolulu-Fukuoka flights using its wide-body, twin-aisle Boeing 767-300ER aircraft that seats up to 264 passengers, before introducing its new and larger wide-body, twin-aisle 294-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft onto the route.

For more information on tickets:
www.HawaiianAirlines.co.jp (Japanese language website)
U.S. Sales Office: 1-800-367-5320
Japan Sales Office: 03-5405-8761

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