Hawaiian Airlines launched its inaugural flight from Honolulu to Sapporo, Japan Tuesday, and restored nonstop service between the two cities that had been discontinued by other carriers nine years earlier.
Passengers of the inaugural flight enjoyed a festive island-style send-off at Honolulu International Airport before boarding, featuring Hawaiian music and hula, a traditional Hawaiian blessing, presentation of fresh flower lei, and a special performance honoring the Japanese culture.
Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO, said, "We are delighted to be restoring the convenience of nonstop service to Hawaii for travelers in Hokkaido and look forward to bringing increasing numbers of visitors from the region to our island home. At the same time, we know that many of our customers in Hawaii and North America with an affinity for Japan will take the opportunity of this
new service to experience the unique sites and cultural attractions of northern Japan."
The capital city of the island of Hokkaido, Japan’s second-largest and northernmost island, Sapporo is Japan’s fourth-largest city with a population of 1.9 million.
Sapporo is renowned for its ski resorts -- the city hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics -- and the world-famous Sapporo Snow Festival, which annually attracts millions of visitors each February to see its spectacular snow and ice sculptures.
Hawaiian’s Honolulu-Sapporo service is adding 41,000 new air seats to the market annually and the benefit to Hawaii’s visitor industry will be significant, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
"Today’s launch of Hawaiian Airlines' new Sapporo route is great news for Hawaii’s tourism economy and will generate an estimated $61 million in visitor spending and $6.7 million in state tax revenue," said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. "The flight will also provide residents of Hokkaido with its only direct access to Hawaii. We remain committed to working with Hawaiian Airlines to ensure the success of this flight and providing visitors greater
accessibility to our state."
Hawaiian’s Flight HA 441 departs Honolulu International Airport on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 2:45 p.m., crosses the international dateline, and arrives at Sapporo's New Chitose Airport at 7:00 p.m. the following day.
The return flight HA 442 departs Sapporo on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 9:30 p.m., crosses the international dateline, and arrives in Honolulu at 9:55 a.m. the same day.
Sapporo is the fourth city in Japan that Hawaiian has introduced nonstop service in the past two years following Tokyo (November 2010), Osaka (July 2011), and Fukuoka (April 2012).