Australia-Hawai'i flights increase
By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Lynda Arakawa
A new airline service between Australia and Honolulu will boost the number of visitors from Down Under and help diversify Hawai'i's No. 1 industry, tourism officials said.
Jetstar, the discount airline owned by Qantas Airways Ltd., yesterday announced it will begin operating three direct flights a week between Sydney and Hono-lulu Dec. 27. It will also fly nonstop to Honolulu twice a week from Melbourne — a new route for Hawai'i — beginning Dec. 29. All flights are subject to regulatory approval.
Qantas will continue to operate its Sydney-Honolulu service three times a week, said David May, Jetstar's general manager of marketing and public relations. Hawaiian Airlines and Air Canada also fly Sydney-Honolulu routes.
"With thousands of new weekly seats in to and out of Hawai'i for the Qantas Group, there are real growth opportunities for the local Hawaiian tourism industry," May said.
"Most of our customers are going on a holiday or going to visit people, and Hawai'i's one of the most popular holiday destinations. So we're looking forward to bringing more people over this way."
Jetstar kicked off its new direct service between Honolulu and Australia with a temporary, one-way fare of $111. The company said the special fare, which doesn't include surcharges and taxes, was to be available through 4 p.m. today, or until seats sold out. The special fare was for travel between Feb. 1 and May 31 next year. Information is available at Jetstar.com.
Australian tourists are important for Hawai'i's visitor industry, which is working on diversifying its markets to reduce its high dependence on the Mainland and Japan.
The new Jetstar service should help develop Hawai'i's Australian visitor market, which peaked in 1990 at 240,000 visitors but fell to below 100,000 a few years ago as airlift fell, said Hawai'i Tourism Authority CEO Rex Johnson. About 122,940 Australian tourists visited Hawai'i last year, according to state figures.
"In these days and times, whenever we can add seats to the marketplace, that's a good thing for the overall industry," Johnson said.
Jetstar will initially operate a fleet of Airbus A330-200s to Ho-nolulu and change to Boeing 787 aircraft around late 2008.
The airline brings more competition to Hawaiian Airlines, which in June reduced its Sydney-Honolulu service from four weekly flights to three flights a week. May said Jetstar is committed to providing everyday fares about 20 percent to 30 percent lower than other airlines.
Hawaiian Airlines declined to comment, but May said "there's plenty of room for everybody.
"We're used to working in highly competitive markets, but equally we do see that every market we go to grows," May said. "So we think it will be great news for everybody."
Johnson said: "Hawaiian's certainly going to have to compete with Jetstar, but I think that overall it's going to be good for the marketplace."
Reach Lynda Arakawa at email@example.com.