Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

InsightFollowing last year’s record-setting visitor spending and arrivals figures across the Aloha State, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) is now projecting the destination will enjoy an unprecedented level of airlift in 2013.

HTA officials are forecasting a 6.8% year-over-year boost in total available air seats arriving on nonstop flights to Hawaii in 2013, an increase that would push capacity beyond 10.75 million seats for the 12-month period and surpass the previous all-time high of 10.59 million set back in 2006.

Restoring air seat availability has been a top priority for the destination since the failures of both Aloha Airlines and ATA.

“Hawaii lost 1.5 million air seats within two years following the closure of Aloha and ATA airlines and the economic downturn,” HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney said in a statement. “Through our efforts and collaboration with our industry partners, it has taken us more than three years to gain back more than 2 million air seats to our state.”ShaneNelson

Seats on nonstop flights to Hawaii from the U.S. mainland are expected to climb 3.4%, to nearly 7.2 million, in 2013, while those from international origin cities are projected to jump 14.1%, according to figures released by the HTA earlier this month.

“With Taiwan’s recent entrance to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program and the new routes we’ve established throughout the Asia-Pacific region, we anticipate growing our market share across the globe,” David Uchiyama, vice president of brand management for the HTA, said in a statement. “The Asia and East Coast routes will allow us to reach new markets such as Southeast Asia and Latin America and continue to expand our efforts in Europe.”

While airlift to Hawaii from states west of the Rockies will likely grow just 2.4% year over year in 2013, available seats from the East are expected to surge nearly 11% this year.

According to James Tedesco, the marketing director for Gogo Worldwide Vacations, the increased seat capacity provided by the daily nonstop New York Kennedy-Honolulu flights offered by Hawaiian Airlines and the daily Washington Dulles-Honolulu nonstops operated by United, both of which debuted in 2012, has been terrific for business.

“It’s also nice to see that Houston will be providing flights year round as well for passengers that don’t want to connect through L.A., especially with the two United hubs in the Northeast,” Tedesco added, noting that Gogo’s core business originates from the East Coast. “Another path to travel to Hawaii is always good.”

Tedesco said Gogo’s 2013 domestic business to Hawaii is already pacing double digits ahead of last year’s totals, but the company’s international bookings to the Aloha State are producing even better percentage-based growth.

“Globally, taking into account all the countries that Flight Centre sells from, we are pacing over 20% ahead of last year, which is fantastic,” he explained. “And it speaks volumes for the job well done by the HTA in working with wholesalers and the airlines to increase their air capacity.”

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI