HONOLULU (AP) — In an effort to expand its reach in Asia, Hawaiian Airlines announced Tuesday it will offer daily nonstop flights between Honolulu and the Japanese city of Fukuoka starting next year.
Pending approval from the government in Japan, the new Fukuoka flights will begin April 16. It will be the third destination in Japan for Hawaii's largest carrier and the fourth destination in Asia. Hawaiian launched service to Tokyo in November, to Seoul in January and Osaka in July.
The announcement comes as Hawaii's tourism industry focuses on the Asia market and after the Japan earthquake and tsunamis in March slowed travel from the major market for visitors to Hawaii.
"It is another sign that Japan is on its way to recovery and there is increasing demand for travel to Hawaii," said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. "The HTA estimates the flight will provide $154 million in visitor spending and $16.8 million in tax revenue annually."
Delta Air Lines is expected to launch nonstop seasonal service from Fukuoka and Honolulu beginning Dec. 28. Hawaiian's flight will be the only year-round daily scheduled service to Hawaii from Fukuoka.
The flights to Fukuoka, the economic center of Kyushu island, allows Hawaiian to expand to a new region of Japan, said Mark Dunkerley, the airline's president and CEO. "Demand for our services in Japan from Tokyo and Osaka has been extremely strong, and we are responding to similar demand for Hawaii from the travel community in Fukuoka," he said.
Hawaiian Flight 453 will depart Honolulu International Airport daily at 1:20 p.m. and arrive at Fukuoka Airport at 6:40 p.m. the next day. Flight 454 will depart Fukuoka at 9 p.m. and arrived in Honolulu at 10 a.m. the same day.
In its ongoing expansion effort, Hawaiian said it has already starting hiring to fill more than 400 new staff positions. The company expects to hire 56 pilots, 275 flight attendants, 38 airport customer service agents and 40 maintenance personnel over the next six months.