Hawaiian Airlines, which in 2014 suspended its service to Fukuoka, Japan amid declining passenger counts, announced today that it intends to restart non-stop service between Fukuoka, Japan, and Honolulu starting as soon as November.
The state’s largest carrier said it plans, upon government approval in the U.S. and Japan, to operate four weekly flights between Fukuoka Airport on the island of Kyushu and Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The carrier said the new flights would complement its Japan network, which includes non-stop service connecting the Hawaiian Islands with both Haneda and Narita in Tokyo, as well as Osaka and Sapporo.
Hawaiian Airlines’ original Fukuoka service launched in April 2012. Masanori Hashimoto, director general of airport planning bureau, Fukuoka Prefectural government, said officials are glad that the discontinuation of service to Hawaii will be short-lived.
“We are glad that Hawaiian Airlines is planning to start the route in response to local demand,” Hashimoto said in a statement. “Fukuoka Prefecture and the state of Hawaii have been sister states since 1981, and have been establishing exchanges in various areas, including tourism, culture, and the economy.”
Today more than 5 million of the 13 million residents of Kyushu call the Fukuoka Prefecture home.
Theo Panagiotoulias, senior vice president for global sales and alliances at Hawaiian Airlines. said in a statement, ”We are eager to bring travelers in Fukuoka and throughout Kyushu our warm Hawaiian hospitality along with the convenience of non-stop flights to Hawaii. Japan is a special place to Hawaiian and Hawaii, and we are excited to make both island chains more accessible for our guests.”
The expanded service announcement followed the carrier’s report earlier today that its passenger traffic fell nearly 2% in April.
Hawaiian carried 947,438 passengers compared with 961,431 in April 2018. Hawaiian’s load factor — or the percentage of seats filled — dropped by 0.2 percentage points to 85.0%.
Revenue passenger miles — or one paying passenger transported one mile — increased by nearly 4% to more than 1.4 billion. Available seat miles, or one seat transported one mile, rose nearly 4% to nearly 1.7 billion.
For the year, passenger traffic has fallen more than 2% to nearly 3.8 million. The airline’s revenue passenger miles rose nearly 3% to almost 5.6 billion, and its available seat miles increased nearly 3% to more than 6.5 billion. Its load factor slipped 0.1 percentage points to 85.1% from 84.2%.
So far, 2019 has not been as robust as 2018 was for Hawaiian Airlines. Last year, the airline carried an all-time high of 11,840,178 passengers in 2018 amid a fleet expansion. Hawaiian’s passenger traffic last year rose 2.9 percent from 11,505,324 in 2017 as the airline took delivery of nine A321neo aircraft during 2018 to bring the size of its A321neo fleet to 11 aircraft.
Hawaiian, which made its traffic and expansion announcement after the market closed, saw its shares fall $0.66 to $27.58 during the regular trading session.