29 April 2010

Reduced Service From Asia

The global economic recession has rippled to affect airline service between Asia and Hawai‘i.

With Japan Airlines' October 30 exit from KOA, flights to the Neighbor Islands from Japan end. Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi and state tourism officials are pleading with JAL to restore JAZ70/79. It is a tough loss to the Big Island and the tourist industry there. JAL, however, needs to restructure their business model to regain profitability, and exit bankruptcy.

With JAL's downsizing of their fleet (see below), HNL traffic is expected to lose around 625 seats per day with the switch from their 747-446 to their 767-346ERs, including the addition of their HND flight. JAL is expected announce further actions in August.

Korean Airlines recently switched from their 747-4B5s to their A330-323Xs on their ICN-HNL flight (KAL52/51), results in a loss of 80 seats per day.

On a brighter note, All Nippon Airlines (ANA1052/1051) has upgraded from their 767-381ERs to their 777-281s, and results in an average gain of at least 70 seats per flight. That's depending on which seating layout ANA uses, currently they have three different seating arrangements for their 772 fleet ranging from 233 (3-class) to 358 (2-class).

Finding the right airline, aircraft, and destination demand may seem easier than it is, especially when serving the Neighbor Islands. JAL feels its better off directing their Neighbor Island traffic to inter-island carriers.

* Observation *
What the airlines could do, is what United does with their ORD-OGG flight (UAL3), it makes a fuel stop at KOA, since the OGG runway is too short for their 777-222s to make it to ORD. Airlines could do the same with NRT-OGG, then make a stop in KOA to take on more fuel to return to NRT ... that way they could serve two Neighbor Islands with one flight.

At one point, Maui was courting JAL for OGG service, but since the runway is too short, return flights would need to make a stop. Proposals to lengthen OGG's Rwy 2/20 have been met with opposition, saying that a longer runway will allow more tourists on the Valley Isle.

Being that both UA and DL already serve OGG and KOA, they would have existing infrastructure to handle the flights. ANA could use UA's ground handling as they do at HNL.

Should HA receive authority for their proposed HND-HNL flight(s), it could open the door for them as well.

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