Prompted by the announcements of other carriers’ intentions to reduce service to Japan, Hawaiian Airlines today reaffirmed its commitment to Japan and its broader plan of expansion in Asia.
President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Dunkerley said, “The earthquake and the tsunami which hit Japan on March 11 devastated the littoral communities in North Eastern Japan. All of us at Hawaiian send our deepest sympathy to those who have lost loved ones and who themselves face an uncertain future as the process of rebuilding gets underway. As a company, and as citizens of an ocean side community with close ties to Japan, we have a special connection to those in need in Japan and we are engaged in a broad array of efforts aimed at supporting them as they rebuild their lives. We wish we could do more.
“While other airlines have announced service reductions to Japan, we have no plans to reduce our daily service to Tokyo, and we remain committed to launching new service to Osaka beginning July 12. It is clear from our current results that we are seeing a significantly less severe downturn in traffic than is being reported by other companies in the airline and tourism sectors. At the same time, discussions with our travel partners in Japan indicate that while a downturn is currently upon us, they expect a recovery in bookings after a short interval.”
Dunkerley and other members of Hawaiian’s management team visited Japan early last week and had the opportunity to gauge the impact of the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima power plant developments on outbound travel from Japan. “The purposeful and business-like approach of Japan to recovering from these events is an example to us all. One cannot fail to be impressed by how quickly daily activity has returned to near normality in Tokyo and Osaka. It is clearly the case that those of us watching developments in Japan from afar have little appreciation for what is actually happening in these cities that are some distance away from where devastation has occurred.”
Dunkerley observed that Hawaiian’s Tokyo service serves primarily Japan-originating travelers who appear to be more inclined to keep their travel plans than are non-Japanese residents who had planned travel to Japan.
“In the initial period following the earthquake, we saw a number of cancellations and no-shows but this activity has largely dissipated. Looking ahead, we are seeing a slowdown in forward bookings for the next two months. Current indications suggest a slightly less than 20 percentage point decline in bookings over the next month compared to what we would have expected during this period. Given the role of tour companies as intermediaries in the Japan market, we don’t have a great deal of visibility beyond this period. However, our travel partners in Japan believe that, barring conditions worsening, a recovery in the Japan market could begin in May.
“Our experience in Tokyo before the earthquake surpassed our expectations by a substantial margin and led us to accelerate our plans to commence services to Osaka. We remain profoundly confident about our long term expectations for Hawaiian’s role in the Japan-Hawaii travel market and enthusiastic about our existing and planned services,” Dunkerley said.
Hawaiian inaugurated service to Japan with daily service between Honolulu International Airport and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on November 17, 2010. The route accounts for approximately 5 percent of the company’s revenue.