The U.S. Department of Transportation this morning approved Hawaiian Airlines’ application to serve Honolulu and Kona from Haneda airport in Tokyo.
The DOT has given Hawai’i’s largest and longest serving carrier until Jan. 29, 2017 to start the new service.
In an order issued this morning, the DOT wrote: “Hawaiian, and Hawaiian alone, requested the nighttime slot pair, and the Department finds that prompt approval of Hawaiian’s request is consistent with the public interest.”
“This is tremendous news for Hawaiian Airlines, for our employees, our customers and for the economies of Kona and our entire state,” said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO. “Flights between Hawaii and Japan are the most traveled and most beneficial to the U.S. economy, so being able to expand the number that we can offer to Tokyo’s Haneda airport is especially important. We have estimated that the Kona portion alone will generate $35 million in visitor spending and $12.5 million in wages and benefits.
“Many thanks go to our entire Congressional Delegation for advocating so strongly for Hawaiian Airlines and Hawai’i in this proceeding. Mahalo also to Governor David Ige, Mayor Billy Kenoi and all of the businesses and individuals who offered letters of support for this service,” Dunkerley added.
The DOT must still decide which five of eight remaining applications by four U.S. air carriers for daytime slots at Haneda it will approve. The slots were opened as part of a February agreement between the U.S. Government and the Government of Japan. Hawaiian has asked that its existing daily Honolulu-Haneda service be among those five.
“Securing the daytime slots for our existing Honolulu-Haneda route will optimize these scarce route rights, since no other application comes close to providing the benefits to the community, travelers and the economy when compared to our already successful service started six years ago,” Dunkerley noted.
The amended agreement takes effect on Oct. 30, 2016. Hawaiian Airlines has 90 days from that date – or Jan. 29, 2017 – to begin the Honolulu-Kona service.