Hawaiian inches into China with Air China

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Hawaiian Airlines views its partnership with Air China as a "first step" into the greater China market, says chief financial officer Scott Topping.

The Honolulu-based carrier is gaining visibility into booking trends and price points for Chinese travellers through the partnership, he says at the Deutsche Bank 2012 Aviation and Transportation conference in New York today.

Hawaiian and Air China have an interline agreement for travel between China and Hawaii via Seoul.

Topping says that the airline expects greater China, which includes the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, to be an important market for it in the future.

Hawaiian is also looking at Toronto and Vancouver, Canada, and Boston and Philadelphia as potential new destinations, Topping said at the 2012 Dahlman Rose Global Transportation Conference on 5 September.

Mark Dunkerley, chief executive of Hawaiian, said that the difficulty that Chinese nationals face getting tourist visas to the US is an "impediment" to the airline launching service to the country despite significant interest, in an interview with Flightglobal in June.