Hawaiian announces Taipei flights

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Hawaiian Airlines will begin service between Honolulu and Taipei from July 2013, living up to its pledge to enter the region once US visa restrictions were relaxed.

The Honolulu-based carrier will operate the flight three-times weekly on a 294-seat Airbus A330-200. Taipei will be its first destination in greater China.

"We have long known that there is demand for a Hawaii vacation in Taiwan, but visits have been impeded by the cost, complexity and time it has taken its citizens to apply for a US visitor visa," says Mark Dunkerley, president and chief executive of Hawaiian. "Now that Taiwan is part of the US Visa Waiver Program, we are delighted to be adding Taipei as the latest city in Hawaiian's growing Asia network."

Taiwan joined the US State Department and Department of Homeland Security managed programme on 1 November. It allows Taiwanese passport holders to enter the USA for tourism or business for up to 90 days without a visa.

Dunkerley previously told Flightglobal that US visa restrictions were an "impediment" to Hawaiian expanding to China itself.

Earlier this year, the airline took its "first step", in the words of chief financial officer Scott Topping, into China with an interline agreement to connect passengers over Seoul with Air China.

Separately, Hawaiian will increase frequency between Honolulu and Sydney to daily from four-times weekly from 3 April 2013 to 1 June 2013. The increase is due to strong seasonal demand.