Available seats on nonstop flights to Hawaii are expected to remain essentially flat through April, May and June, slipping only .4% overall when compared with the same period in 2010.
Emphasizing the significance of airlift to the state and the recent impact of Japan’s natural disasters on the destination’s tourism industry, Hawaii Tourism Authority officials released the results of a revised second-quarter airlift study earlier this month.
“Our projections show that despite an anticipated decrease in airlift from Japan, the overall number of air seats should be relatively flat compared to the same period last year,” Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO, said in a statement. “This is an indicator that interest in travel to Hawaii remains strong and mirrors our strategy of driving increased demand, and particularly from destinations such as the U.S. West, Korea and Australia.”
According to the HTA report, available seats from Japan are expected to drop 10.5% year over year through June. However, state officials are predicting a 3.5% increase in overall international seats arriving on nonstop flights, boosted by a 43.5% jump from Sydney and a 136.6% surge for Seoul, South Korea. A 13.9% climb is also expected from Canada.
While seats from the U.S. West were forecast to grow a modest 1.2%, those from the U.S. East will likely plunge 20%, reflecting suspension of service from Minneapolis, Charlotte and Detroit.
Sharp gains are expected from San Jose, Calif. (19.7%), San Diego (18.2%) and Denver (17.3%).
Much of the decline in seat availability from Japan is the result of Japanese Airlines downsizing aircraft on flights to the Islands, along with “temporary reductions” in JAL and Delta flights following the earthquake and tsunami, according to HTA officials.
“We understand that the situation in Japan is constantly evolving,” McCartney said. “And we will continue to evaluate the impact on airlift and provide this information to our marketing partners, Hawaii’s tourism industry and the entire state.”
Increases from the Korean market will come from Hawaiian Airlines’ new flights to Seoul and Korean Air expanding existing service. Hawaiian Airlines is also effectively doubling its flights to Sydney, while growth from the Canadian market is the result of Air Canada and WestJet flight increases.