Hawaiian Airlines A330-243 (c/n 1316) N389HA "Keali'iokonaikalewa" turns onto Rwy 25R at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS/KLAS) as it readies to depart to Honolulu International Airport (HNL/PHNL) on December 31, 2013.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
Hawaiian Airlines is renewing its push for permission to fly between Kona and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which would be an important step in the carrier’s move to increase long-haul services from Hawaiian airports other than its Honolulu hub.
The carrier has filed an application with the Department of Transportation (DOT) for a daily Kona-Haneda flight to begin in June. The opportunity for a scarce Haneda slot pair has been created by DOT’s decision to review Delta’s Seattle-Haneda route after the airline cut its year-round service to seasonal.
Hawaiian Airlines has applied for Kona-Haneda flights on two previous occasions—in 2012 and 2013—but in both cases the available Haneda slots were awarded to other carriers.
If the latest bid is successful, it will be Hawaiian’s only international flight from an airport other than Honolulu. Hawaiian launched its first long-haul routes from Kona—on the west side of the “Big Island” of Hawaii—when it began seasonal flights to Oakland and Los Angeles last summer.
The carrier has also been increasing long-haul flights from the US West Coast to the islands of Kauai and Maui. Further opportunities for flights from the West Coast to secondary Hawaiian airports will be created when the airline begins taking delivery of Airbus A321neos in 2017.
Hawaiian intends to use Airbus A330-200s for the Kona-Haneda flights, which would be its first use of A330s at Kona. The carrier believes there will be strong demand for this route, since Kona is already its second most popular destination for Japanese travelers, an airline spokesman told ATW.
More than 40% of the airline’s passengers visiting Kona from outside Hawaii are from Japan. Japan Airlines previously flew between Tokyo and Kona, but discontinued the service in 2010.
The new Kona flight would be Hawaiian’s fifth Japanese route. It also has daily service to Tokyo Haneda and Osaka from Honolulu, and thrice-weekly flights from Honolulu to Sendai and Sapporo.
In its DOT application, Hawaiian contends that its existing Honolulu-Haneda flight has been “by far the most, if not only, successful route” of the four Haneda slot pairs granted to US carriers in 2010.
Airline CEO Mark Dunkerley said the Kona flight would be the “highest and best use for the scarce Haneda slots that are at stake here.”