Big Island Coronavirus Updates

First International Flight Arrives Under Safe Travels Program

November 7, 2020, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated November 6, 7:56 PM
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Courtesy of Hawai’i COVID-19 Joint Information Center

The arrival of 64 travelers to Oahu from Japan Friday marked the return of international travel to Hawai‘i after several months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The visitors arrived on an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight from Haneda Airport from Tokyo. They are the first to take part in the state’s pre-travel testing program, which now includes both domestic trans-Pacific travelers and those from Japan.

“Today we welcome additional visitors from Japan who are participating in the pre-travel testing program,” Gov. David Ige stated in a morning news conference at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. “This allows us to revive our economy while keeping our community, the people who work here, and those in the hospitality industry, safe.”

The pre-travel testing program for incoming travelers to Hawai‘i is part of a layered program, that includes thermal screening of all passengers at arrival gates and receiving a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of their flight to Hawai‘i to bypass the 14-day mandatory quarantine.

“This program helps us welcome back friends and loved ones traveling from Japan, thanks to the governor’s strong leadership,” Lt. Governor Josh Green said. “We are excited to reunite people and restore some hope.”

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Upon returning to Japan, travelers are subject to quarantine. Most US citizens are currently restricted from traveling to Japan.

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Eric Takahata, with Hawai‘i Tourism Japan, called Friday a “momentous day.” He said the arrival of the first international flight under the pre-travel testing program is exciting and people should be proud that the incredibly hard work of both Hawai‘i’s and Japan’s leaders and the hospitality industry made this possible. He also singled out the work of House Speaker Scott Saiki, Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) Director Mike McCartney, and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) President and CEO John De Fries for their coordination.

ANA, Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines have a total of eight flights from Japan to Honolulu this month. ANA has another flight scheduled to arrive on Nov. 20. Japan Airlines flights are scheduled for Nov. 10 and 23.

Hawaiian Airlines flights from Japan are scheduled for each Saturday in November. The state is working with the governments of Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, and New Zealand, as the next international destinations to resume travel under the Safe Travels Program. While starting slowly, Green cited statistics that demonstrate the economic power of international travel to Hawai‘i.

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“A single Airbus at 85% passenger capacity is estimated to bring spending of $105 million to Hawai‘i, generating $12 million in taxes, and supporting 1,100 jobs,” Green said.

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