Kona Airport and U.S. Customs and Immigration Service are preparing for the first international flights into the island in six years.
The agency is installing new immigration checks and screening terminals at the airport in anticipation of Hawaiian Airlines' new direct flight to Japan. Gov. David Ige announced the reopening of the federal inspection service at Kona Airport on Dec. 2.
The first flight from Kona to Tokyo's Haneda Airport will depart on Dec. 20 and the return flight will land back on the island the following day.
The new Hawaiian Airlines route will offer a regularly scheduled flight from Japan to Hawaii Island for the first time since 2010, which is when Japan Airlines canceled its Tokyo-Kona route. It will also mean the state has a second airport receiving direct international arrivals, joining Honolulu Airport.
The Hawaiian Airlines flight will operate three times a week.