Taking another significant step in expanding its international route network, Hawaiian Airlines today announced that it will introduce new nonstop flights between Honolulu and Seoul-Incheon International Airport starting in January 2011, pending approval from South Korea's Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM).
The announcement follows Hawaiian's plans to begin daily service between Honolulu and Tokyo's Haneda International Airport later this year and is seen as the latest step in Hawaiian's long-term plans to expand its service in Asia.
Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, noted the significance of this step. "We have seen double-digit growth out of the Korea market following the U.S. Visa Waiver Program agreement in November 2008," he said. "Since then, more than 21 percent of Koreans traveling to the U.S. have taken advantage of the program.
In 2009, Hawaii saw visitor arrivals from Korea jump 44.2 percent over 2008. As of May, 33,304 visitors from Korea arrived in Hawaii, an increase of 85.4 percent over the same period last year. Korean visitors spent an average of $238 per person per day in first quarter 2010.
"Maintaining and increasing air access to Hawaii is a top priority for HTA and a key component of its strategic plan," McCartney said. "With the addition of this new flight, there will be approximately 13,000 to 14,000 additional seats from Korea to Hawaii, an increase of 9 percent over 2010. The new route out of Incheon will also provide an alternative transfer point for travelers from China and other parts of Asia who are looking to visit Hawaii...This additional flight is estimated to provide up to $19.4 million in visitor expenditure and will help stimulate job growth in our islands."