Hawaii air capacity on the rise

*logoHawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism released a report predicting a 1.8% increase in the number of available airline seats on nonstop flights to Hawaii during July, August and September.

The projected increase is the first time in more than two years that DBEDT has predicted growth in one of its three-month forecasts for available airline seats.

According to Daniel Nahoopii, bureau chief at DBEDT’s tourism research branch, some of that change in direction can be linked to last spring’s ATA and Aloha Airlines bankruptcies.

"We are at the same level that we were last year after the cut," Nahoopii said. "The big negatives from last year were mainly because of the ATA and Aloha issue … and now we’re in kind of a steady state and on the level where it seems like we’ll be for the rest of the year."

Available seats from the U.S. mainland were expected to increase 2.4%, to 1.6 million, over the three-month period. Seats on flights from the West Coast are projected to climb 5%.

DBEDT expects flights from Seattle, Portland and Anchorage to be up 26.1%, 15.7% and 153.8%, respectively.

According to Nahoopii, a great deal of those increases can be attributed to Alaska Airlines’ growing number of regular flights to Hawaii from the Pacific Northwest.

Los Angeles seats were projected to grow 3.8%, as were those from San Francisco (2.8%) and Las Vegas (26.6%).

Available seats on international flights were predicted to increase only slightly (0.1%), but flights from Korea should be up nearly 79%.

"That’s in anticipation of the increase in Korean visitors because of the new visa waivers," Nahoopii said. "But we have some concerns about their current exchange rate and economy."

DBEDT expects significant declines from Canada, down 32.7%; from the East Coast, off 10.7%; from Sydney, down nearly 16%; and from San Diego, slipping more than 42%.

A projected increase of 0.9% was forecast for available seats on flights from Japan, but Nahoopii said concerns over the H1N1 virus have had a significant impact on the number of Japanese arrivals.

"Flights from Japan are flying very empty," Nahoopii said. "So what might happen is that they may adjust the schedule and cancel flights as they go along."

The DBEDT report is based on information in the Official Airline Guide flight schedules for June.

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