Hawaiian Airlines Celebrates Haneda-Kona Service
Hawaiian Airlines celebrated the launch of its non-stop service between Haneda and Kona International Airports today.
It is the first service to bring flights from Japan back to the Big Island for the first time since 2010.
Hawaiian Airlines invited more than 100 supporters of its application for the new service to welcome HA Flight 852, which landed in Kona shortly after noon.
In attendance were Gov. David Ige, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono and Hawai‘i Island Mayor Harry Kim.
Hawaiian will have triweekly services between Haneda in Tokyo and Kona.
“We are delighted to welcome the first non-stop flight from Tokyo to Kona in six years,” said Gov. David Ige. “This new service will lift the economy of our state and allow visitors from Tokyo direct access to the magnificent Kona Coast and all that Hawai‘i Island has to offer.”
“Our Japanese guests have been increasingly drawn to the vast wonders of the Island of Hawai’i and, in fact, our flight today is almost full,” said Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines.
“We are sincerely grateful for the support we have enjoyed from our Japanese travelers, and thankful to all of the local businesses, government officials and community members who backed our application to resume flights from Japan to the Big Island,” Dunkerley added.
Before departing Haneda, guests aboard today’s inaugural flight were treated to a special gate-side ceremony featuring Hawaiian music and hula, refreshments, a traditional Hawaiian blessing and the giving of fresh flower lei.
The arrival of HA852 culminates a months-long process to return flights from Japan to Kona.
In April, Hawaiian applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation to offer three times weekly service between Haneda and Kona, along with a second frequency four time weekly between Honolulu International Airport and Haneda.
Hawaiian made the case that flights between Hawai‘i and Japan are the most traveled and most beneficial to the U.S. economy, and noted that Haneda-Kona service would open to Hawai’i’s largest unserved international market.
The U.S. DOT granted Hawaiian’s request in May, and earlier this month the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the re-establishment of a FIS at Kona airport to process guests arriving on Hawaiian’s flights.
Hawaiian will operate its new Haneda-Kona and Haneda-Honolulu services with wide-body Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
The fleet is currently being retrofitted to include 18 lie-flat seats in the Premium Cabin, 68 Extra Comfort seats and 192 seats in the main cabin.
Hawaiian was among the first three U.S. airlines granted authority to operate at Tokyo’s Haneda airport in 2010.
For the last six years Hawaiian has transported over half a million passengers out of Haneda – more travelers than any other U.S. carrier – and a 2.2 million passengers between Japan and Hawai‘i.
It’s service to Honolulu alone has added at least $941 million to the U.S. gross domestic product, generated $564 million in direct spending and led to the creation of 2,337 new jobs.
It is estimated the new triweekly Haneda-Kona service will spur $56 million in annual visitor spending.
Hawaiian also hired 34 new employees in Kona associated with the new flight operation.