Hawaii's Airline Seat Capacity Expected to Rise

Hawaii's airlift scene got a major boost last month when United brought back direct flights from the mainland to Hilo on the Big Island. Hotel operators told Travel Agent that the flights will help support the outlying islands, and will help promote longer-stay tourism to areas that otherwise might only get day-trippers. (Look for that story in an upcoming issue of Travel Agent.)

Bearing that in mind, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency, has released its Airline Seat Capacity Outlook Report for the third quarter of 2011. The HTA’s projections are based on flights appearing in OAG and Sabre airline schedules as of June 2011.
 
*    Fueled by capacity increases from the U.S. West, Japan, Canada, Oceania and South Korea markets, total scheduled nonstop air seats to Hawaii are expected to rise 1.1 percent over prior year levels in the third quarter of 2011. While not as robust as the 4.5 percent increase in capacity seen in the first quarter of 2011, the moderate growth (1.1 percent) projected for the July through September period represents an increase in market momentum from the relatively flat performance seen in the second quarter (0.2 percent) of the year.

*    The U.S. West market, which has posted year-over-year capacity gains in nearly every month since March 2010, is expected to continue its upward climb with a 1.4 percent rise in third quarter air seats. However, this growth is expected to be offset by a 24.3 percent decrease in seats from the eastern region of the country. The majority of the decline in seats from U.S. East results from the suspension of flights from Charlotte, Detroit and Minneapolis. However, reductions in service on the Chicago-Kahului and Houston-Honolulu routes also contribute to the expected year-over-year decrease.

*    Scheduled air seats from Japan are expected to increase 1.6 percent in the third quarter, driven upwards by the addition of more than 74,000 seats from Tokyo-Haneda (which more than offsets a projected decrease of a little more than 70,000 seats from Tokyo-Narita) and a 5.3 percent increase in seats from Osaka. Hawaiian Airlines’ new Osaka-Honolulu flights contribute to the expected growth in this market.

*    An increase in flight activity from Vancouver to Honolulu and Kahului by WestJet is slated to increase third quarter seat capacity from Canada by 52.3 percent.

*    New Hawaiian Airlines service and an increase in the number of flights by Korean Air are expected to grow third quarter scheduled capacity on the Incheon-Honolulu route by 73.3 percent. In addition, the launch of China Eastern Airlines’ twice-weekly scheduled Shanghai-Honolulu service in August and Asiana Airlines’ twice weekly Incheon-Honolulu charters in September are expected to add 6,300 seats from the Asia region to Hawaii during the third quarter. The additional flights by China Eastern and Asiana do not yet appear in the OAG/Sabre schedules, and are not included in this third quarter air seats outlook.

*    A nearly doubling of Hawaiian Airlines’ flights from Sydney and smaller increases by Qantas and Jetstar are expected to fuel a 29.8 percent third quarter increase in seats from Australia. Meanwhile, an 8.0 percent rise in seats from New Zealand is expected to grow overall capacity from Oceania by 25.4 percent.

For a copy of the complete Airline Seat Capacity Outlook Report for July-September 2011, visit the Infrastructure Research page of the HTA’s Tourism Research Division website: www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/research-reports.

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