Hawaiian launches flights to Seoul
Hawaiian Airlines today spread its wings deeper into Asia, with the launch of its new nonstop service between Honolulu and Seoul, South Korea. Seoul represents Hawaiian’s first destination on the Asia continent and its third Asia destination overall, having previously launched service to Manila (April 2008) and Tokyo (November 2010).
Hawaiian’s inaugural flight today to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport began with a pre-flight ceremony at the boarding gate at Honolulu International Airport that featured Hawaiian music and hula, a special Korean cultural dance performance, traditional Hawaiian blessing, and the giving of fresh flower lei to departing passengers.
Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO, stated, “This is another history-making day for Hawaiian as we expand even farther into Asia with our new flights to Seoul and introduce our unique brand of inflight service that promotes the Hawaii travel experience. We are thrilled about flying into Incheon International Airport, which is one of the world’s most modern airports and a major hub for connecting flights throughout Asia.”
To attract Korean travelers and meet their service expectations for the Incheon-Honolulu route, Hawaiian is complementing its award-winning “Hawaii Starts Here” inflight experience celebrating Hawaii’s culture, people and natural beauty, with a customized presentation adapted to the Korean culture, featuring new pan-Asian cuisine, Korean entertainment options, and special onboard amenities.
Hawaiian is providing nonstop service four days weekly to Incheon, adding 54,000 new air seats annually to a market that has been rapidly growing since Korea joined the U.S. Visa Waiver Program in 2008. According to information provided by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), arrivals year-to-date from Korea to Hawaii through November 2010 totaled 79,131 visitors, an increase of 75.3 percent compared to the same period in 2009. HTA is projecting that Hawaii will receive 115,000 visitors from Korea in 2011.
Mike McCartney, Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO, commented, “Today’s launch of direct service to Incheon International Airport in Seoul is positive news for Hawaii’s visitor industry and another sign that our tourism economy is continuing to recover. The HTA estimates that the new flight will bring in approximately $86.4 million in annual visitor expenditures.”
McCartney added, “Along with the increase in leisure visitors from Korea, this route also creates an opportunity for more meetings, convention and incentive business out of Korea because meeting planners will be able to pursue larger groups with greater assurance that seat inventory will be available. We are committed to supporting Hawaiian Airlines, in collaboration with our contractor Hawaii Tourism Asia and Hawaii’s visitor industry, to ensure the long-term success of the new route.”
Hawaiian’s Incheon service will help meet the growing demand of Korean travelers while also making it easier for other Asian travelers to reach Hawaii, a position supported by Tae-Soo Yeo, head of the aviation sales team at Incheon International Airport Corporation.
Mr. Yeo commented, “Since Korea joined the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, Hawaii has been enjoying significant growth in the number of travelers. However, even before Korea became a member of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, the Incheon-Honolulu route has been a popular route for Northeast Asians. In fact, Japanese and Chinese flying to Hawaii and by transferring flights at Incheon account for 40 percent of Incheon-Honolulu route users.”
Starting today, Hawaiian’s Flight #459 departs Honolulu International Airport four days weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 1:20 p.m. and arrives at Incheon International Airport at 8:05 p.m. the following day. Return Flight #460 departs Incheon on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 10:15 p.m. and arrives in Honolulu at 11:00 a.m. the same day. (South Korea is 19 hours ahead of Honolulu and the flight crosses the International Dateline.)
Hawaiian will initially serve the Incheon-Honolulu route using its wide-body, twin-aisle Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, which comfortably seats up to 264 passengers with 18 in Business Class and 246 in Economy Class. Hawaiian plans to introduce its new and larger 294-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft onto the route at a later date.