NORTH KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Hawaiian Airlines on Wednesday launched its new non-stop service between Haneda and Kona International Airports, bringing flights from Japan back to the Big Island for the first time since 2010.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono and Big Island Mayor Harry Kim welcomed HA 852 -- the first Hawaiian Airlines flight from Haneda – shortly after noon.
The Haneda-Kona service, offered three times a week, is the latest in the airline’s international network, following the July launch of daily service between Narita and Honolulu.
In April, Hawaiian applied for the slot at Haneda, making the case to the U.S. Department of Transportation that flights between Hawaii and Japan are the most traveled and most beneficial to the U.S. economy, also adding that this particular service would open up Hawaii’s largest unserved international market.
The DOT approved the slot in May.
Haneda is one of the most sought after airports for U.S. carriers as it is closer to downtown Tokyo than Narita, but international flights from this airport are scarce.
This new service is expected to generate $56 million in annual visitor spending. The airline has also hired nearly 35 employees in Kona for the new flight operation.