Maui Business

Hawaiian Not Reducing Japan Schedule; Recovery Anticipated

March 31, 2011, 10:55 AM HST
* Updated March 31, 2:29 PM
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Hawaiian Airlines newest aircraft, the 294-seat Airbus A330-200, is seen flying above beautiful Hawaii. Hawaiian is launching daily, nonstop flights between Honolulu and Osaka, Japan. Osaka will be the third Asia destination that Hawaiian has launched service to in recent months, following Seoul in January and Tokyo last November. (PRNewsFoto/Hawaiian Airlines, Chad Slattery)

By Sonia Isotov

Today, Hawaiian Airlines reconfirmed that it will not be reducing service to Japan and is still planning to start an Osaka service in July. Executives predict a bookings recovery by May.

In a statement released by the company today, Hawaiian Airlines said it will continue its daily service between Honolulu International Airport and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which was inaugurated November 17, 2010. This route reportedly accounts for approximately 5% of the company’s revenue.

President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Dunkerley said in the statement, “While other airlines have announced service reductions to Japan, it is clear from our current results that we are seeing a significantly less severe downturn in traffic than is being reported by other companies in the airline and tourism sectors. At the same time, discussions with our travel partners in Japan indicate that while a downturn is currently upon us, they expect a recovery in bookings after a short interval.”

Dunkerley’s comments are based upon a firsthand account of the situation as he and other members of Hawaiian’s management team returned from a visit early last week in Japan where they had the opportunity to gauge the impact of the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima power plant developments on outbound travel from Japan.

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“The purposeful and business-like approach of Japan to recovering from these events is an example to us all. One cannot fail to be impressed by how quickly daily activity has returned to near normality in Tokyo and Osaka. It is clearly the case that those of us watching developments in Japan from afar have little appreciation for what is actually happening in these cities that are some distance away from where devastation has occurred,” described Dunkerley.

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Dunkerley also noted in the statement that Hawaiian’s Tokyo service serves primarily Japan-originating travelers who appear to be more inclined to keep their travel plans than are non-Japanese residents who had planned travel to Japan.

“In the initial period following the earthquake, we saw a number of cancellations and no-shows

but this activity has largely dissipated. Looking ahead, we are seeing a slowdown in forward bookings for the next two months. Current indications suggest a slightly less than 20 percentage point decline in bookings over the next month compared to what we would have expected during this period. Given the role of tour companies as intermediaries in the Japan market, we don’t have a great deal of visibility beyond this period. However, our travel partners in Japan believe that, barring conditions worsening, a recovery in the Japan market could begin in May.” Dunkerley said.

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