“China is a market we’d love to participate in,” president and CEO Mark Dunkerley said Monday.
Before expanding its market to Japan, Hawaiian Airlines, a subsidiary of Hawaiian Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: HA) invested time in the country to develop relationships and understand the culture. It is the same approach the airline is now taking in China.
Hawaiian Airlines has opened sales offices in Shanghai and Beijing, is actively recruiting Mandarin-speaking flight attendants, launched a Chinese-language website last week and began flying nonstop daily to Seoul — a connection for travelers from China and other locations in Asia.
All of these actions, Dunkerley said, are indicators the airline is investing time and effort into developing the China market.
“We do have aspirations for China. We’re very focused on it,” Dunkerley said. He added the airline will establish flights to China “as soon as we have a level of confidence we can get in there successfully.”
Dunkerley said the airline is working to understand how this burgeoning market makes purchasing decisions — an important factor in determining Hawaiian Airlines’ approach to expanding to China.
While setting its sights on global expansion, Dunkerley vows the airline will remain strong locally,
Despite expectations that the Neighbor Island market will weaken over time due to an increasing number of direct flights to Neighbor Islands and an improved infrastructure, it will always remain central to Hawaiian Airlines.
“It is who we are. It’s how we started 83 years ago,” Dunkerley said, adding that in his view, it is inconceivable that the airline could continue to be what it is today without serving the Neighbor Island markets. “Come hell or high water, we will be here. We are inseparably tied to the state of Hawaii.”
The airline is even increasing its local flavor on flights. Hawaiian Airlines has redesigned its inflight hospitality, now offering Hawaii-made complimentary meals, snacks and beverages from such local manufacturers as Hawaiian Host, Kauai Cookie and Punaluu Bake Shop on the Big Island.
Blaine Miyasato, vice president of product development, said at the heart of this move is to give flight attendants the ability to be hospitable and proud of what they’re offering to travelers.
Pacific Business News by Stephanie Silverstein, Reporter
Edited by : Bill Hurley