East Hawaii News

Leaders React to Haneda-Kona Flights

May 13, 2016, 3:56 PM HST
* Updated May 13, 4:12 PM
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Hawaiian Airlines courtesy photo.

Hawaiian Airlines courtesy photo.

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi expressed his excitement over Hawaiian Airlines’ air service to Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport from Honolulu and Kona International Airport.

“Our economy is uniquely tied to air service,” said Mayor Kenoi. “Thousands of our working families depend on the visitor industry, not only at resorts and hotels, but also at attractions, activities, restaurants, and retailers. This is great news for our state, and especially for Hawaiʻi Island.”

Entrepreneurs on the Big Island who specialize in agriculture and aquaculture niche markets will also benefit from added market opportunities since this flight will be able to carry air cargo,” according to Mayor Kenoi.

“These products no longer have to be sent to Honolulu before being flown to Japan,” said Mayor Kenoi. “This increases freshness and reduces cost.”

The Hawaiian Airlines flight will be the first regularly scheduled international flight to the Big Island since 2010.

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Mayor Kenoi noted Friday that restoring a route to Japan has been a priority of the administration since Japan Airlines ended its service.

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“The County of Hawaiʻi has done everything it could to support Hawaiian Airlines’ application for the flight, including discussions and communications with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Department of Homeland Defense Secretary Jeh Johnson regarding Customs and Border Protection in Kona.

“Our residents are keenly aware of the great economic impact this will have for the entire island. This is also a win-win as it strengthens the competitiveness of Hawaiian Airlines in this market, and fulfills a U.S. Department of Transportation mandate to strengthen smaller carriers.”

Senator Mazie Hirono said Friday that the route is an important first step in the restoration of services from Kona to Japan.

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“Today’s announcement that Hawaiian Airlines will now have authority to fly a route from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Kona is good for Hawai’i’s visitor industry and an important first step in restoring direct service from Kona International Airport to Japan,” said Senator Hirono.

Senator Hirono wrote to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to urge him to approve Hawaiian Airlines’ application, and also met with CBP Deputy Commissioner Kevin McAleenan regarding the Federal Inspection Service facility to process international visitors in Kona.

After many years of advocacy, Senator Hirono announced in February that the U.S. and Japan agreed to expand U.S. flights to Haneda Airport, which made this route possible.

Governor David Ige also applauded DOT’s approval of Hawaiian Airlines’ application to serve Kona from Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

“This creates the opportunity for us to open up Kona as an international point of entry. This is a significant step toward making that happen,” said Mike McCartney, Governor Ige’s chief of staff.

Governor Ige, who is traveling on the mainland, submitted a letter of support of Hawaiian Airlines’ application for a second route, which said, in part:

“Providing direct service to Kona will open a new Haneda gateway to a market that has significant pent-up demand. Kona is the third largest U.S. airport without nonstop service to Tokyo. It has more point-of-sale Japanese passengers than eleven markets that currently enjoy nonstop service to Japan’s most populous city.”

For Big Island Now’s story on the Hawaiian Airlines flights, click here.

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