After declines in both the second and third quarter, the total number of scheduled air seats to Hawaii is expected to inch up 1% over last year’s totals during the final quarter of 2011, according to a forecast released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority on Oct. 5.
Although available seats on nonstop flights from the U.S. mainland are projected to drop, falling 17.9% from the East Coast and .8% from the West, the HTA expects substantial increases in lift from international markets, including a 3.4% boost in seats from Japan.
“The increase in air seats shows that Japan is recovering after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, and we are extremely pleased that they are returning to Hawaii,” said HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney. “Japan is a very important market to our tourism economy.”
Lift to Hawaii from the rest of Asia is projected to jump 92% during the fourth quarter, while available seats from Oceania are forecast to climb 27.1%, and those from Canada are expected to grow 6.6%.
From elsewhere in Asia, “New flights by Asiana Airlines combined with previously launched service by Hawaiian Airlines and increased service by Korean Air boosted Seoul-Honolulu seats by 78.1% in the fourth quarter,” HTA officials said in the Oct. 5 report. “China Eastern Airlines’ new flights from Shanghai also contribute to the near-doubling of fourth-quarter capacity from Asian markets outside of Japan.”
McCartney also outlined several scheduled lift increases from Japan for next year.
“Delta Air Lines will increase service from Osaka to Honolulu from seven to nine flights weekly from March 2012 through April 2012 and again from July 2012 through the end of 2012,” he said. “Additionally, from October 2011 through January 2012, Japan Airlines will be up-gauging their daily Nagoya-to-Honolulu service from a Boeing 777-200ER to a Boeing 767-300ER. … Together, the increases in airlift will provide an estimated 20,570 more air seats through 2012.”
The HTA now expects a total of nearly 9.3 million available air seats will arrive in Hawaii during 2011, a 1% increase over last year’s total and the most since capacity declined sharply in 2008 following the departures of Aloha Airlines and ATA.
According to Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, more than 10.4 million available air seats arrived on nonstop flights to the state in 2007.