Hawaiian Airlines has received final regulatory approval to fly from Honolulu to Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport, but the U.S. Department of Transportation rejected the carrier’s request for a second slot between the two cities.
The DOT, which revealed its final decision yesterday, maintained the tentative rulings it issued May 7 on four available Haneda slots. In addition to Hawaiian, slots went to Delta Air Lines Inc. for routes from Los Angeles and Detroit, and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines for a New York-Haneda flight.
Hawaiian CEO Mark Dunkerley said he was pleased with the one route, although he had been hopeful that the DOT might give Hawaiian a second slot.
"We were always eager for a second route, but it was always going to be a long shot," he said. "I think what we’ve done is signal a desire to grow in this market when further opportunities present themselves in the not-too-distant future."
Hawaiian plans to begin nonstop, daily service on Oct. 31, and Dunkerley said the start date for ticket sales will be announced "soon."
"We’re going to first exploit this opportunity to Haneda, and we fully expect that market to be a tremendous success for us," he said. "As we move forward, I think we’ll have a further appetite to add other flights to Japan."
Previously, travelers seeking to fly to Hawaii from Tokyo had to come from Narita International Airport, which is about 40 miles, or about 90 minutes, outside the city. Haneda, which is centrally located, is more convenient for travelers, including business people, and offers easy connections to many other Japanese cities.
U.S.-based airlines have not been allowed to fly to Haneda since 1978, but a U.S.-Japan Open Skies agreement in December permitted U.S. carriers to introduce four daily round-trip flights at Haneda.
"These new flights will provide travelers with more convenient access to Tokyo," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said yesterday.
Hawaiian’s daily flight is tentatively scheduled to depart Tokyo shortly before midnight and arrive in Honolulu around noon the same day. The return flight will depart Honolulu in the early evening and arrive in Tokyo late evening the next day. The airline initially will use its 264-seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft and then eventually transition to one of its new 294-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The new service will bring about 100,000 new air seats annually to Hawaii from the state’s second-largest tourism market, following the U.S. West market.
The additional air seats will provide an estimated $132 million per year in visitor spending, said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Hawaiian’s service to Tokyo will be the carrier’s fifth international route, with the airline scheduled to begin service to a sixth international destination—Seoul-Incheon, South Korea—in January.
The airline also flies to Sydney; Manila; Pago Pago, American Samoa; and Papeete, Tahiti.