Hawaii winter air capacity up 9.4% - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii winter air capacity up 9.4%

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

In a good kick-off to a new tourism year, Hawaii air capacity for the first quarter comes to 2,658,426 seats, up 9.4 percent from the first three months of 2012.

The scheduled seat count by the state shows substantial increases to all islands and from all major regions that send visitors to Hawaii, including 100 more flights from Japan, 100 more flights from Korea, and hundreds to neighbor islands from the West Coast.

Winter will see 90 Hawaiian Airlines flights from New York JFK and 82 United Airlines flights from Washington Dulles. That's more than 43,000 seats in three months.

Maui gets almost 500,000 seats - the actual scheduled seat count is 496,300 - for the first time ever. A decline in seats from LAX, still Maui's single biggest source of visitor arrivals, is more than offset by an increase from Oakland, while a decline from SFO is more than offset by an increase from San Jose. Maui is also getting 10,000 more seats from Portland.

The Big Island will get 10,000 seats from LAX to Hilo but has lost its SFO service to Hilo. However, seats to Kona are up 6.1 percent to almost 180,000 including more than 11,000 seats from Vancouver.

Kauai airlift is up more than 20 percent this winter to almost 160,000 seats with 8,000 new seats from Portland and substantial increases from Oakland and San Jose.

The arrival of more seats is no guarantee that there will be more visitors, yet in recent years it has seemed that "if you fly it, they will come." Hawaii's recession began when a sixth of the state's air connections were grounded by the nearly simultaneous closure of Aloha Airlines and ATA Airlines in early 2008, and the current tourism boom has closely tracked increases in airlift caused mainly by dramatic expansion by Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Other important developments in the state tourism rebound have been United Airlines adding service to Hilo from LAX and to Honolulu from Washington Dulles, the addition of several small routes from previously unserved U.S. West cities by Allegiant Travel, and flights from Shanghai, which brought more than 7,000 seats last winter but this winter will bring 12,000 seats.

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