HONOLULU, Hawaii - Hawaiian Airlines today opened its newest route into Asia with the launch of daily nonstop service between Honolulu and Fukuoka, Japan.
Today's inaugural flight from Honolulu followed pre-boarding festivities featuring Hawaiian music and hula, a performance honoring the Japanese culture, a traditional Hawaiian blessing, and the presenting of fresh flower lei to all passengers.
Fukuoka is the third destination in Japan and fourth in Asia that Hawaiian has launched in the past 17 months, following Tokyo (November 2010), Seoul (January 2011), and Osaka (July 2011).
Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's president and CEO, commented, "This new service will provide people throughout the entire Kyushu region with convenient direct access to the Hawaiian Islands. Fukuoka is a continuation of our strategy of growing into markets from which we expect to see increasing numbers of visitors to Hawaii."
Hawaiian's Fukuoka service is especially beneficial to Hawaii's visitor industry and the state's economy, as Hawaiian is the only carrier providing flights year-round between the two destinations. The new route will add approximately 100,000 new air seats annually from Hawaii's second-largest visitor market in Japan and, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, will generate an estimated $156 million in visitor spending and $17.0 million in tax revenue annually.
Fukuoka is the capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture and the economic center of Kyushu, the third largest and most southerly of Japan's four main islands. Kyushu has approximately 13 million residents, of which five million live in Fukuoka Prefecture. Fukuoka's proximity to Korea, China and other Asian countries will also enable Hawaiian to attract customers from the continent, as well as other cities in southern Japan via high-speed rail transportation.
Hawaii residents will enjoy the convenience of nonstop flights to Fukuoka, a city known for its vibrant culture, entertainment and nightlife, and natural attractions.
As with its service from Tokyo and Osaka, Hawaiian's customers from Fukuoka will be treated to a customized presentation of its signature "Hawaii Flies With Us" inflight hospitality, combining its celebration of the islands' culture, natural beauty, cuisine, people and Aloha Spirit, with entertainment options and special onboard products designed for the Japanese traveler.
Hawaii has a strong historical connection with Fukuoka dating back to 1885 when the first 149 immigrants arrived on the ship Yamashiromaru to work in Hawaii following King David Kalakaua's signing of a treaty of reciprocity with Japan.
A century later, in 1981, the State of Hawaii passed a resolution establishing a Sister-State relationship with Fukuoka Prefecture, the first one in Hawaii's history. Then-Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi, whose father Ryozo Ariyoshi came to Honolulu from Fukuoka, led the Sister-State initiative. Governor Ariyoshi is an invited guest on today's inaugural flight and will be reinforcing ties between the two communities in meetings with government and community leaders in Fukuoka.
Hawaiian Flight #453 departs Honolulu International Airport daily at 1:30 p.m. and arrives at Fukuoka Airport at 7:00 p.m. the next day. The return Flight #454 departs Fukuoka daily at 9:00 p.m. and arrives in Honolulu at 10:20 a.m. the same day. (Fukuoka is 19 hours ahead of Honolulu and the flight crosses the International Dateline.)
Hawaiian will initially operate the Honolulu-Fukuoka flights using its wide-body, twin-aisle Boeing 767-300ER aircraft that comfortably seats up to 264 passengers, before introducing its new and larger wide-body, twin-aisle 294-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft onto the route.