Hawaiian Air gives $300 to each passenger after its inaugural return flight runs into mechanical problems
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 15, 2011
Hawaiian Airlines had planned a celebration with hula dancers and a live band yesterday for the 11 a.m. arrival of its first flight from Seoul's Incheon International Airport to Honolulu.
The musicians and dancers were long gone by the time Flight 460 finally touched down at around 7:30 p.m., following an eight-hour delay due to a component on one of the Boeing 767-300ER's engines that needed to be replaced.
Hawaiian President and CEO Mark Dunkerley was among the 240 passengers aboard the return flight of the airline's inaugural service between Honolulu and Seoul.
"It was disappointing because a lot of people have worked very hard to make this inauguration a great event," Dunkerley said after getting off the aircraft. "But, of course, of paramount interest to us is the safety of our operation. I think everybody understands it is far better to ensure that we operate safely than to cut some corners for a publicity gain."
Passengers on the return flight received $300 apiece from Hawaiian for the inconvenience.
In Seoul, the passengers were served a meal and waited onboard between two and 2 1/2 hours while Hawaiian's maintenance crew trouble-shooted the problem. Once it was diagnosed, they were allowed to leave the aircraft and wait in the holding room. It took another 2 1/2 to 3 hours to fix the engine. The plane then had to be de-iced before it was able to take off.
On Wednesday, the departure of Hawaiian Flight 459, the first from Honolulu for Seoul, was accompanied by Hawaiian music, hula, a blessing and a Korean cultural dance. That flight, with about 100 passengers aboard, arrived without incident.
The return flight was scheduled to leave at 10:15 p.m. Friday, Seoul time, but did not take off until 6:18 a.m. Saturday, Seoul time. South Korea is 19 hours ahead of Hawaii.
Despite the glitch on the first return flight, Hawaiian's four-times-a-week service to Seoul is expected to help boost Hawaii tourism.
In November 2008 the United States included Koreans in a visa waiver program that allows them to travel to the U.S. without a visa.
The Hawaiian flight will add 54,000 seats a year to Hawaii. Through the first 11 months of 2010, 79,131 Koreans visited Hawaii, up 75.3 percent from 45,148 during the same period a year earlier, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. This year the HTA is projecting 115,225 Korean visitor arrivals, up 25 percent from 2010.
Hawaiian's scheduled flights to South Korea depart Honolulu on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 1:20 p.m. and arrive at 8:05 p.m. the following day Seoul time. The return flights depart Incheon on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 10:15 p.m. Seoul time and are scheduled to arrive in Honolulu at 11 a.m. the same day.