Hawaiian Airlines launches nonstop flight to Sapporo

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)

By: Michael Hanson

Hawaiian Airlines opened a direct flight to Sapporo, Japan Tuesday as a continued effort to expand into Asia.  

Japan is the largest international market for Hawaii's visitor industry, and the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) anticipates this new flight to provide an estimated $61 million in visitor expenditures and $6.7 million in tax revenue.

"The more cities we have that expand throughout Asia that come to Hawaii just helps to grow Hawaii's diversity and the global international market," said Mike McCarthy, Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO.

This is the fourth nonstop flight to Japan that Hawaiian has opened since November, 2010.

"One of the things we have tried to do is to add service to areas of the market that have been underserved," said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines CFO. "There have always been lots of flights to Tokyo, and even a fair number of flights to Osaka, but Sapporo and Fukuoka are places that hadn't been served for a number of years."

Every Japanese visitor that lands helps fuel Hawaii's economy. Last year, about 1.2 million visitors flew in from Japan. They spent a combined 2.1 billion dollars once they landed. This year, the HTA expects to have 1.1 million visitors and 2 billion in expenditures between the months of September and January alone.

These expenditures will add to Hawaii's tourism job market, which already supports about 166,000 jobs.

"For about every 100,000 dollars of visitor expenditures here, that creates about one job in Hawaii," said McCarthy.

With the current trend in exchange rates, and the strengthening of the Japanese economy, demand for visiting the United States has picked back up, which is good news not only for Hawaiian Airlines, but for the Hawaii economy as a whole.

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