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Hawaiian Airlines plans to launch a new flight to Tokyo Haneda airport next March, saying the flight will open up new connecting opportunities into Japan for passengers.

The carrier’s new flight between its Honolulu (HNL) base and Haneda (HND) is possible with a new daytime frequency, the equivalent of one daily flight, that it was tentatively awarded by the US Department of Transportation in May. The exact timing of the flight cannot be set until the regulator finalizes the award.

Hawaiian will offer its new Honolulu-Haneda flight in a “new time channel,” said Hawaiian CEO Peter Ingram during its second quarter results presentation on Tuesday. In addition, the flight will benefit from expanded connectivity to domestic points in Japan via codeshare partner Japan Airlines.

The airline’s current flights to Haneda leave Honolulu at 4:05pm and 6:40pm, though the later flight only operates four-times weekly, according to Diio by Cirium schedule data. Its return flights to Honolulu leave Haneda at 9:20pm and 11:55pm local time with only the earlier flight operating daily.

Flights to Haneda, which is more convenient to central Tokyo than Narita (NRT) airport, from the US are limited under the US-Japan open skies agreement. Airlines from each country can operate to six flights – five daytime and one nighttime – with 12 new daytime flights available for service from 2020.

Hawaiian currently holds one daytime and one nighttime frequency at Haneda. The airline offers 11 flights a week from Honolulu, and three flights a week from Kona (KOA).

The additional service comes as competition between Hawaii and Japan heats up. All Nippon Airways introduced Airbus A380s on its flights between Honolulu and Narita in May, and Hawaiian plans to resume service to Fukuoka (FUK) in November after a five-year hiatus.

Hawaiian executives, speaking during the presentation on Tuesday, said the introduction of the A380 only briefly depressed fares in the market. They added that demand to Japan remains robust.

The airline plans to grow system capacity by 1.5-2.5% in 2019, its latest guidance shows. Executives declined to comment on its capacity growth plans 2020 beyond the addition of the new Tokyo flight.

Buoying Hawaiian’s outlook is a pending joint venture with JAL. The pact, which requires regulatory approval, would allow the two airlines to act as essentially one between Japan and Hawaii, including coordinating schedules and fares, and jointly marketing and selling flights.

Hawaiian is not the only US airline to receive new frequencies to Haneda. The DOT tentatively awarded American Airlines two frequencies for flights to Haneda from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX); Delta Air Lines five frequencies for flights from Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), Honolulu, Portland (PDX) in Oregon, and Seattle (SEA); and United Airlines four frequencies for flights from Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Los Angeles, Newark Liberty (EWR) and Washington Dulles (IAD).

American, Delta and United all urged the regulator to finalize the Haneda flights in June.

Featured image by Tomas Del Coro/Flickr.

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