Hawaiian Airlines, a subsidiary of Hawaiian Holdings Inc., had filed an application in January for daily service between Haneda and Kona Airport on the Big Island.
The DOT decision to allow Delta Air Lines continue to operate its Haneda route from Seattle — after the airline had cut back on its winter service to the route instead of the daily flights it had agreed to when it won the slot in 2013 — was “tremendously disappointing” for Hawaiian Airlines, Dunkerely said.
“Sadly, by dismissing Hawaiian’s proposed Kona route as just simply being additive to the routes already serving Hawaii, the DOT has once more failed to appreciate the geography of the 50th state,” Dunkerley said in a statement. “Kona and Honolulu are separate markets, separate communities and indeed are located on separate islands.”
Dunkerley also took a swipe at a perceived bias by regulators against Hawaii’s No. 1 industry, tourism.
“The tentative ruling also reveals a long-held institutional bias among decision makers favoring the interests of U.S. business travelers over those of U.S. travel-related businesses and travelers in general,” he said.
The DOT’s decision hinges on Delta increasing the frequency on the Haneda-Seattle route to daily, year-round flights. If the airline fails to maintain that schedule, the DOT will turn the Haneda slot over to American Airlines.
Hawaiian already operates daily flights between Haneda and Honolulu International Airport.
“Hawaiian is the only airline to have operated Haneda service continuously and successfully since the slot rights were granted,” Dunkerley said.
Dunkerley noted that Hawaiian’s proposed route would have provided more seats and would have resulted in more travelers flying between Japan and the United States that the proposed routes for Delta or American.
“Kona is the largest unserved market in this proceeding, and Hawaiian’s proposed route would have generated more economic benefit than that offered by either Delta or American,” Dunkerley said.
“None of these facts are in dispute by the DOT.”
Delta said in a statement that it had resumed its service between Seattle and Haneda “after a temporary seasonal suspension” but that it would now year-round nonstop flights to Haneda from Seattle.
(Janis L. Magin - Pacific Business News)