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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hawaiian Air adds Philippines route

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hawaiian Airlines will recall 11 furloughed pilots to handle the new service to the Philippines, which, pending approval, begins in March.

JEFF WIDENER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaiian Airlines said it plans to fly to the Philippines starting in March, in what could be the first of several new routes in Asia.

The state's largest airline said yesterday that it will fly at least four weekly flights between Honolulu and Manila, making it the only domestic airline to fly nonstop between the two destinations.

"We see tremendous opportunity to increase travel on this route in light of the deep historical and cultural ties Hawai'i has to the Philippines, Manila's large population of over 10 million people, its growing international business sector and substantial middle class with the inclination and means to travel," said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's chief executive officer.

The move, which requires approval from U.S. and Philippine authorities, will allow Hawaiian to recall 11 furloughed pilots and hire additional flight attendants.

The new route comes at a time when Hawaiian is facing stiff competition on its West Coast to Hawai'i routes and a glut of cheap tickets on its interisland routes.

Dunkerley said the new Philippines service is part of the company's strategy to expand into Asia over the next several years.

Hawaiian previously sought federal approval to fly to China. But in 2005, the U.S. Department of Transportation selected American Airlines and Continental Airlines ahead of the local carrier.

Hawaiian said it will use a 264-seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft for the 11-hour flights. The aircraft will be one of the seven 767-300ERs that are being used in the airline's trans-Pacific routes.

The new flights will more than double the number of passengers flying between Honolulu and Manila.

Hawaiian said 170,000 people traveled between Hawai'i and Manila last year. During the past three years, the number of travelers from the Philippines has grown at an annual compounded rate of 7 percent, the company said.

Only one carrier, Philippine Airlines, flies directly from Manila, with three weekly flights.

"Hawaiian's flights will increase business, cultural and educational opportunities for Hawai'i, providing additional international options and help bring our communities even closer together," Gov. Linda Lingle said in a news release.

The new Philippines route is Hawaiian's first new international one since it launched its Sydney, Australia, route.

Reach Rick Daysog at rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com.