KAILUA-KONA » Hawaiian Airlines is looking to add a second nonstop route between Hawaii and Tokyo, a move expected to bring more than $100 million to the state each year.
The airline said in a news release last week that if the U.S. Department of Transportation approves the routes, new flights to Japan’s Haneda International Airport would be available from Honolulu International Airport four times per week and Kona International Airport three times weekly, West Hawaii Today reported.
Hawaiian Airlines said Kona’s is the third-largest airport that is unable to offer passengers direct service to Japan’s most densely populated city, despite having more point-of-sale Japanese passengers than 11 other U.S. destinations that offer nonstop flights to Tokyo.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation said just one new international flight is expected to generate about $113 million in spending annually and boost the state’s tax revenue to around $14 million each year.
State lawmakers approved $50 million in funds for Kona International Airport in a supplemental budget in March. The money, which is awaiting final approval, would go toward upgrading the airport’s facilities and construction of a permanent federal inspection station to accommodate international flights.
Even if the funding is secured, there still may be challenges to building the inspection station to meet U.S. Customs and Border Protection standards because the airport has not yet been approved to set up such a facility.
Hawaii transportation officials are working to recertify the facility at Kona. If that process is successful, construction of a permanent inspection station would take about two years, the officials said.