Airlines Bet Big On Hawaii With 275,000 Additional Seats
by James Jones and Peter Fuleky, UHERO March 3, 2013
The latest infrastructure report from the Hawaii Tourism Authority suggests that airlines are betting big on Hawaii and increasing airlift to the state. HTA expects the number of seats on direct flights to Hawaii will exceed 2.6 M for the three month period between February and April 2013. This is an increase of more than 11% from the same period last year, amounting to roughly 275,000 additional seats.
Most of the additional seats are on flights to Honolulu International Airport on Oahu, the state’s main air travel hub, but the Neighbor Islands will see additional direct service as well. Lihue Airport on Kauai and Kahului Airport on Maui will see 15,000 and 18,000 additional seats respectively. Direct airlift to the Big Island will remain flat with small gains in Kona International Airport offset by fewer direct flights to Hilo International Airport.
Direct flights from the US Mainland to Hawaii account for 126,000 of the new seats, an increase of almost 8% from the previous year. Two new non-stop flights from major East Coast travel hubs introduced last summer are providing a big boost. Hawaiian Airlines’ new flight from New York’s JFK added 24,000 new seats and United’s new flight from Washington Dulles added 19,000. Additional seat capacity is also planned from Oakland International Airport (+15,700), Portland International Airport (+14,200), San Jose International Airport (+11,200), and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (+11,000). Bellingham International Airport located in north-west Washington 22 miles south of the Canadian border will also see a significant increase in air service to Hawaii with 17,200 new seats scheduled; including 11,500 seats to Kahului on new flights by Allegiant Airlines and Alaska Airlines.
More than half of the increased airlift is expected to come on international flights from Asia and Oceania. Flights from Japan are expected to increase by almost 20% with an additional 84,000 seats. Direct flights from South Korea will add 25,800 additional seats, up more than 30% from the previous year; in 2012 the number of Korean visitor arrivals to the state increased by almost 40%. Big increases in direct airlift from Australia and New Zealand are in store following strong arrivals growth in 2012. Scheduled seats from Australia will increase by almost 26,000, a 46% increase, thanks to new direct flights from Brisbane and Melbourne. Direct flights from New Zealand will also add more than 8,000 additional seats; an increase of 140%.
The data suggests that airlines are convinced there’s room for the state’s visitor industry to continue to grow even after record breaking arrivals numbers in 2012. Will airlines be able to fill all of these additional seats? Stay tuned to UHERO as we continue to follow the state’s visitor industry this year!