Hawaii tourism officials seek flights to Kona

The Hawaii Tourism Authority are making efforts to have Japan Airlines fly 10 flights to Kailua-Kona from Tokyo’s Narita airport this summer in hopes strong ticket sales will lead the airline to reinstate regularly scheduled service to the Big Island, said an official Wednesday.


David Uchiyama, the agency’s vice president for brand management said that the initial plan was to get the flights operated in June and July. But worldwide grounding of Boeing 787 aircraft made it uncertain because the airline may not have sufficient planes to operate the flights.

The 787 has been grounded since Jan. 16, after a battery fire on one plane, and a smoking battery on another plane forced an emergency landing.

Boeing is now trying to get approval of Federal Aviation Administration for a plan to fix the battery problem.

Uchiyama said having the 787 back in the air would be significant to whether Japan Airlines would fly to Kona this summer.

The agency views the special flights to Hawaii as a way to boost the number of tourists travelling to the Big Island in the long run.

Uchiyama said the flights could set the platform for the return of regular service.

On the other hand, the flights would help officials get customs and immigration facilities running again at the Kona airport.

Currently, there are only flight services to Honolulu are available from cities outside North America.

Japan Airlines flew nonstop from Narita to Kona for 14 years. But the airline stopped its operations in 2010 while it underwent restructuring after declaring bankruptcy.

Uchiyama said that they have also talked to Korean Air Lines and Qantas Airways of Australia about flying to Kona.

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