Hawaiian Airlines CEO: Haneda ruling reveals DOT’s business-travel bias

Mark Dunkerley
Mark Dunkerley

Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley said he believes the Department of Transportation’s recent ruling on Delta’s service between Seattle and Tokyo Haneda Airport exposes the federal organization’s preference for business travel.

“[It] reveals a long-held institutional bias among decision makers favoring the interests of U.S. business travelers over those of U.S. travel-related businesses and travelers in general,” Dunkerley said in a March 27 statement.

The DOT tentatively ruled that Delta could retain its right to offer service to Haneda from Seattle, provided the airline maintains daily flights year-round on the route. Should that not occur, American Airlines would be assigned the Haneda slot, according to the DOT ruling.

Hawaiian Airlines filed an application in January for daily nonstop service between Haneda and the Kona Airport on the Big Island of Hawaii.

“Sadly, by dismissing Hawaiian’s proposed Kona route as just simply being additive to the routes already serving Hawaii, the DOT has once more failed to appreciate the geography of the 50th state,” Dunkerley said. “Kona and Honolulu are separate markets, separate communities and indeed are located on separate islands.”

Calling the DOT decision “tremendously disappointing,” Dunkerley noted that Hawaiian is the only U.S. carrier to continuously operate its Haneda route since the slot rights were initially awarded in 2010.

Hawaiian currently flies a daily Haneda-Honolulu nonstop.

“Our proposal provided more seats and would have resulted in more travelers flying between Japan and the United States than either Delta’s or American’s proposal,” Dunkerley added. “Kona is the largest unserved market in this proceeding, and Hawaiian’s proposed route would have generated more economic benefit than that offered by either Delta or American. None of these facts are in dispute by the DOT.”
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