The building of a fourth runway at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport could turn out to be a boon for Hawaii tourism.
All Nippon Airways, Japan’s second-largest airline, became yesterday the third carrier in the last two months to announce plans to begin daily service between Haneda and Honolulu beginning Oct. 31.
The new service, along with previously announced Haneda-Honolulu routes from Japan Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, will help stabilize the Hawaii visitor market from Japan in the wake of previously planned cutbacks by JAL.
"It is anticipated with the increase of air seats from Haneda, as well as other service we believe will be announced soon, that the total air seats coming to Hawaii from Japan should be flat or slightly increased by the end of October compared with the same period last year," said state tourism liaison Marsha Wienert.
Last month, 135,956 air seats came out of Japan into Hawaii, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
In April, JAL said that even with the new Haneda-Honolulu service, it was reducing its airlift to the state by about 800 passengers a day, or roughly 36 percent, by eliminating its Narita-Kona route in October and downsizing its aircraft to more fuel-efficient Boeing 767s from the larger Boeing 747s.
But the expansion of Haneda Airport figures to pump new life into Japan travel to Hawaii.
Wienert said the decreased commute time for Japanese travelers to get to Haneda rather than Narita should make Hawaii more enticing.
"Japan is our second-largest producing market (behind the U.S.), and having three daily flights coming out of Haneda with Hawaiian getting theirs, JAL announcing theirs and now with ANA, that is absolutely positive news for us in Hawaii," Wienert said.
ANA, which will use a 214-seat Boeing 767-300 ER for the Haneda-Honolulu flight, also plans at the same time to switch its aircraft on its lone daily Narita-Honolulu flight to a Boeing 767 from the 306-seat Boeing 777 it currently uses. The net result from the two flights will be an additional 122 passengers a day to Hawaii.
Hawaiian, which is still awaiting word from the U.S. Department of Transportation on the airline’s request for a second daily flight from Haneda, plans initially to use a 264-seat Boeing 767 before eventually switching to a 294-seat Airbus A330-200.
Japan Airlines, which still will offer six daily flights to Honolulu after dropping Kona and adding Haneda, uses Boeing 767s that seat about 237.
Separately, St. Paul, Minn.-based Sun Country Airlines, a regional leisure carrier that flies to warm-weather destinations, said yesterday it is looking into adding scheduled seasonal service from the Midwest to Honolulu during the winter season, with a layover in either Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Sun Country, which flew a Boeing 737-800 charter flight to Honolulu Tuesday from Phoenix, is scheduled to fly the University of Idaho and San Jose State University football teams to Honolulu later this year for games against the University of Hawaii.
"Hawaii is something we’re looking at, but we haven’t made a final decision," said Sun Country spokeswoman Wendy Blackshaw.