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Airline seat capacity to Hawaii forecast to rise 3.8% in first quarter

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Airline seat capacity to Hawaii is expected to rise 3.8 percent in the first quarter from a year ago and could provide the impetus for the state to achieve a full-year record for visitor arrivals.

Increases are forecast in all of the state’s major markets except for the U.S. East, according to data released today by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The projections are based on flights appearing in OAG and Sabre airline schedules last month.

The largest gains will come from outside the U.S. 

Japan, the state’s largest international market, is expected to show a 5.2 percent increase in seat capacity. Capacity from Canada, the second-largest international market for Hawaii, is expected to rise 28.2 percent while Oceania, the state’s third-largest global market, is expected to rise 68.4 percent. 

South Korea air seats are expected to rise 41.8 percent while China Eastern Airlines’ twice-weekly Shanghai-Honolulu service is expected to boost capacity.

Hawaii’s largest market, the U.S. West, will expand air seats by just 0.9 percent. But that will be more than offset by a 21.4 percent reduction in seats from the U.S. East that will leave overall seats from the U.S. down 1.8 percent.

The additional overall air seats could help Hawaii surpass the full-year visitor arrivals record of 7.6 million  in 2006. Hawaii had 6.6 million arrivals through the first 11 months last year and HTA predicted arrivals would end 2011 at just under 7.5 million.

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