Hawaiian Airlines Tentatively Denied Application to Begin Tokyo-Kona Service; President and CEO Speaks Out

hawaiian airlinesHawaiian Airlines, Inc. filed an application January 5 with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to begin daily, non-stop service this summer between Tokyo International Airport at Haneda (HND) and Kona International Airport (KOA) on Hawaii Island.

On Monday, Hawaiian Airlines' President and CEO Mark Dunkerley issued a statement on the Department of Transportation’s tentative decision to deny that request.

"The tentative decision issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation this morning to allow Delta Air Lines to retain the valuable right to fly from Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport for largely unused service to Seattle is tremendously disappointing," he said. "We are further disappointed that the U.S. DOT has determined that should Delta’s planned service continue to fail, the Haneda slots will be assigned to American Airlines."

The airline’s action was prompted by the U.S. DOT’s decision last month to review the public interest served by Delta’s Seattle-Tokyo route after Delta reduced its frequency from daily to seasonal, said Dunkerley. 

"Hawaiian is the only airline to have operated Haneda service continuously and successfully since the slot rights were granted," said Dunkerley. "Our proposal provided more seats and would have resulted in more travelers flying between Japan and the United States than either Delta’s or American’s proposal."

In its application, Hawaii’s flagship carrier urged the U.S. DOT to reallocate Delta’s Haneda frequency based on market data, noting that Hawaiian Airlines’ Honolulu-Tokyo service has been "by far the most, if not only, successful route" of the four Haneda slot pairs granted to U.S. carriers in 2010.

"Kona is the largest unserved market in this proceeding, and Hawaiian’s proposed route would have generated more economic benefit than that offered by either Delta or American. None of these facts are in dispute by the DOT," said Dunkerley. "Sadly, by dismissing Hawaiian’s proposed Kona route as just simply being additive to the routes already serving Hawaii, the DOT has once more failed to appreciate the geography of the 50th state. Kona and Honolulu are separate markets, separate communities and indeed are located on separate islands."

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) estimates that the proposed daily service will generate 531,721 visitor days and $146 million in visitor expenditures. Hawaiian Airlines’ application calculates that service directly to Kona will attract 39,000 additional visitors, result in 1,151 new jobs and $65 million in new direct spending.

"The tentative ruling also reveals a long-held institutional bias among decision makers favoring the interests of U.S. business travelers over those of U.S. travel-related businesses and travelers in general," said Dunkerley. "Hawaiian will be considering its next steps in this proceeding in the coming days."

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