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Hawaiian Airlines awarded Japan-Kona route


HONOLULU — The U.S. Department of Transportation this morning approved Hawaiian Airlines’ application to serve Honolulu and Kona from Haneda airport in Tokyo. The DOT has given Hawai‘i’s largest and longest serving carrier until Jan. 29, 2017 to start the new service.

In an order issued this morning, the DOT wrote: “Hawaiian, and Hawaiian alone, requested the nighttime slot pair, and the Department finds that prompt approval of Hawaiian’s request is consistent with the public interest.”

“This is tremendous news for Hawaiian Airlines, for our employees, our customers and for the economies of Kona and our entire state,” said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO. “Flights between Hawaii and Japan are the most traveled and most beneficial to the U.S. economy, so being able to expand the number that we can offer to Tokyo’s Haneda airport is especially important. We have estimated that the Kona portion alone will generate $35 million in visitor spending and $12.5 million in wages and benefits.

“Many thanks go to our entire Congressional Delegation for advocating so strongly for Hawaiian Airlines and Hawai’i in this proceeding. Mahalo also to Governor David Ige, Mayor Billy Kenoi and all of the businesses and individuals who offered letters of support for this service,” Dunkerley added.

The DOT must still decide which five of eight remaining applications by four U.S. air carriers for daytime slots at Haneda it will approve. The slots were opened as part of a February agreement between the U.S. Government and the Government of Japan. Hawaiian has asked that its existing daily Honolulu-Haneda service be among those five.

“Securing the daytime slots for our existing Honolulu-Haneda route will optimize these scarce route rights, since no other application comes close to providing the benefits to the community, travelers and the economy when compared to our already successful service started six years ago,” Dunkerley noted.

The amended agreement takes effect on Oct. 30, 2016. Hawaiian Airlines has 90 days from that date – or Jan. 29, 2017 – to begin the Honolulu-Kona service.

Statement from the office of Gov. David Ige

HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige is applauding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s approval of Hawaiian Airlines’ application to serve Kona from Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

“This creates the opportunity for us to open up Kona as an international point of entry. This is a significant step toward making that happen,” said Mike McCartney, Gov. Ige’s chief of staff.

Hawaiian Airlines has been flying passengers on the Haneda-Honolulu route since 2010, providing 107,000 round-trip seats a year and generating $564 million in direct spending.

Gov. Ige, who is traveling on the mainland, submitted a letter of support of Hawaiian Airlines’ application for a second route, which said, in part:

“Providing direct service to Kona will open a new Haneda gateway to a market that has significant pent-up demand. Kona is the third largest U.S. airport without nonstop service to Tokyo. It has more point-of-sale Japanese passengers than eleven markets that currently enjoy nonstop service to Japan’s most populous city,” said Gov. Ige.

The U.S. DOT has given Hawaiian Airlines until Jan. 29, 2017 to start the new service.

Statement by Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi

Hawaiʻi County Mayor Billy Kenoi said he is thrilled by today’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved the application by Hawaiian Airlines to provide passenger air service to Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport from Honolulu and Kona International Airports.

“Our economy is uniquely tied to air service,” said Mayor Kenoi. “Thousands of our working families depend on the visitor industry, not only at resorts and hotels, but also at attractions, activities, restaurants, and retailers. This is great news for our state, and especially for Hawaiʻi Island.”

Entrepreneurs on Hawaiʻi Island who specialize in agriculture and aquaculture niche markets will also benefit from added market opportunities since this flight will be able to carry air cargo. “These products no longer have to be sent to Honolulu before being flown to Japan,” said Mayor Kenoi. “This increases freshness and reduces cost.”

The new route will bring a regularly scheduled international flight to Hawaiʻi Island for the first time since 2010, the last year Japan Airlines offered service between Kona and Tokyo’s Narita airport. Hawaiian Airlines will start flying directly into Kona from Haneda three times a week by Jan. 29, 2017.

Assisting in the restoration of this route has been a priority of the Kenoi administration ever since Japan Air Lines ended its service. “The County of Hawaiʻi has done everything it could to support Hawaiian Airlines’ application for the flight, including discussions and communications with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Department of Homeland Defense Secretary Jeh Johnson regarding Customs and Border Protection in Kona.”

Mayor Kenoi thanked Hawaiian Airlines for never giving up its pursuit to expand its Hawaiʻi-Japan routes, significantly the direct flight into Kona. “Our residents are keenly aware of the great economic impact this will have for the entire island,” Mayor Kenoi said. “This is also a win-win as it strengthens the competitiveness of Hawaiian Airlines in this market, and fulfills a U.S. Department of Transportation mandate to strengthen smaller carriers.”

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) welcomed the announcement today that Hawaiian Airlines has been awarded a route from Haneda International Airport in Tokyo to Hawai‘i that will allow more visitors to fly into airports in Honolulu and Kona.

“Secretary Foxx shared this good news this morning, and I continue to appreciate the excellent work the Secretary has done to add new routes between Tokyo and the U.S.,” said Senator Schatz. “It is important to keep in mind there are five more routes up for competition, and I will continue to strongly advocate for Hawaiian Airlines in their effort to secure more direct flights from Tokyo to Hawai‘i. Hawaiian has a proven record of success in the Tokyo market and there continues to be tremendous demand to fly into Hawai‘i.”

Statement by Senator Mazie Hirono

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Senator Mazie K. Hirono today announced that Hawaiian Airlines was awarded a direct route from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Kona International Airport. While the flight route is approved, flights must still stop on Oahu until a permanent Customs and Border Protection (CBP) checkpoint is established in Kona.

“Today’s announcement that Hawaiian Airlines will now have authority to fly a route from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Kona is good for Hawaii’s visitor industry and an important first step in restoring direct service from Kona International Airport to Japan,” said Senator Hirono. “We haven’t had direct commercial flights from Japan to Kona since October 2010, and I have been working closely with our state and federal departments of transportation as well as CBP to make this happen as soon as possible.”

Senator Hirono wrote to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to urge him to approve Hawaiian Airline’s application, and also met with CBP Deputy Commissioner Kevin McAleenan regarding the Federal Inspection Service facility to process international visitors in Kona. After many years of advocacy, Senator Hirono announced in February the U.S. and Japan agreed to expand U.S. flights to Haneda Airport, which made this route possible.

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