After more than 2 years, Hawaii welcomes back first ANA honu-themed plane from Japan
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After more than two years, All Nippon Airways’ Airbus A380 Flying Honu are back in the islands.
The first flight returned Friday morning with 414 people on board — signifying a big step forward in restoring Hawaii’s largest international market.
“After two long years of dealing with the COVID pandemic, we are excited to welcome back tourism from Japan,” Gov. David Ige said, during a press conference Friday. “We know that they are excited to be back as well.”
ANA’s honu plane initially began service between Honolulu and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport in 2019, but the pandemic forced airlines to stop regular service in 2020.
According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, there were 1.5 million Japanese visitors in pre-pandemic 2019, spending more than $2 billion.
Last year, there were only 24,000 visitors from Japan.
- With trip, governor hopes to woo Japanese travelers back
- After 2 years of strict COVID restrictions, Japan is welcoming back visitors again
- As Japan eases restrictions, businesses hopeful rebound in international arrivals will follow
“For almost two and a half years, not only airline business, but also tourism industry in Hawaii has been going through tough time,” said Keita Hirashima, vice president and general manager of ANA. “We are very happy to have you back, finally.”
The double-decker, four-engine jet airliner known for its Hawaiian sea turtle display, holds more than 500 passengers.
“These honu airplanes are so special that we made a $30 million investment in our airport to gates C4 and C9 to service them,” Ige said. “We added loading gates, stairs, and escalators at C4 and modernized the elevator at C9.”
The planes will fly twice a week from July through October.
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