The return of direct international flights is essential to Hawaii’s economic recovery

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — It may seem like tourists are back in full force, but state officials say the vast majority still come from the United States and not from international markets like Japan, which they say are essential for economic recovery.

More direct flights could change that.

On Friday, All Nippon Airways resumed direct flights from Tokyo to Honolulu on its massive Airbus A-380 after halting flights two years ago. A total of 414 travelers flew from Narita International Airport to Honolulu on the “Flying Honu”.

The plane will fly twice a week to/from Honolulu.

Heads of state and business celebrated the return of ANA’s largest passenger aircraft.

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“A daily ANA flight will support 3,000 jobs. And it will provide over $300 million in Japanese visitors who will spend directly in our economy,” said Mike McCartney, Director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. .

The state is banking on international travel spending to support economic recovery and offset soaring inflation and labor shortages. Direct flights are essential.

Another carrier relaunching its flights is Air New Zealand.

From Monday, it is bringing back three direct flights between Auckland and Honolulu after no flights for two years.

“We were getting a lot of pressure to resume our flights to Hawaii from our major travel agencies in New Zealand as well, the New Zealand public because Kiwis absolutely love Hawaii,” said Ben Evers-Swindell, chief executive. of the Americas for Air New Zealand.

As restrictions ease around the world, business travelers with disposable income are attending international conferences, turning work into extended vacations and spending on tours, food and more.

“Between the United States and Singapore, we have no travel restrictions,” said Leonard Sim, a Singaporean nonprofit entrepreneur who came to Oahu for an ASEAN regional forum on inclusivity.

“I will visit Waikiki after the conference, take a look around, enjoy the sights and of course also shopping.”

“It’s a 20-hour flight from Mongolia to here,” said Gandolgor Purevjav, a Mongolian businesswoman and East-West Center alumnus who flew to Honolulu for an alumni conference. .

“We can meet or we can attend the conference online. But meeting in person is the most valuable part of the conference.

HTA President and CEO John De Fries added, “Hawaii is heading into an era of research into the conscious traveler, the respectful one, the sensitive one, and the highly aware traveler.”

DBEDT data shows more visitors came and spent more per person in May this year compared to May 2019.

“People are dying for post-COVID vacations, where they want to recharge,” McCartney said.

Although demand is strong, higher airfare and fuel costs will mean a gradual return to pre-pandemic levels.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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