HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Planes will have to fly fuller to Hawaii if the state is to see any uptick in visitors, because compared to last year the seat count is down.
The state air capacity census shows airlines are scheduled to fly 1,048,245 seats to Hawaii in August this year, down 1.3% from 1,061,707 in 2015. Total seats will be up all neighbor islands but down 4% to Oahu.
What's driving the decline is Japan, which will send 162,806 seats to Hawaii this month, down 12% from last year, including 9,000 fewer seats just from Osaka.
Since airlines made their schedules, the yen has strengthened, trading at 102 to 105 to the dollar most days over the past month, so it's possible that some Japanese who hadn't planned a Hawaiian vacation will change their minds and fly here after all. Higher load factors could more than offset lower capacity.
Total international seats will be down 7%, falling below 300,000, a decline of about 22,000 that is almost entirely attributable to Japan. As for other foreign sources of visitors, small declines from China and Canada are more than offset by more seats from South Korea and Australia.
On the domestic side, there will be 5,000 fewer seats from U.S. East (anywhere farther east than Denver, the way the state parses it) and 8,000 fewer from LAX, a 3.3% decline from last year, but offsetting that will be 112,000 seats from SFO, up 19,000 or 8%, plus 6,000 more from Oakland. There will be 75,000 from SeaTac, up 7,000 or 10%, as well as small increases from Portland and San Diego.