Hawaiian Airlines will grow its capacity by about 25% this year as it continues to add new destinations, says Mark Dunkerley, chief executive of the Honolulu-based carrier, in New York.

Dunkerley was in town to celebrate the launch of Hawaiian's new nonstop between New York's John F Kennedy airport and Honolulu, the first to the US east coast for the carrier, as well as its codeshare with JetBlue Airways, which was fully implemented today.

Organic growth is behind Hawaiian's capacity expansion. New York is its second new destination this year after Fukuoka, Japan, which it launched in April, and will be followed by Sapporo, Japan, in November.

The delivery of new 294-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft is driving the growth. Hawaiian will have nine in its fleet by the end of the year, according to Flightglobal's Ascend database.

Dunkerley says that the airline is likely to announce at least one more city this year. While he would not elaborate, Boston, due to the connection possibilities with JetBlue, or another destination in Asia are rumoured.

Service to China is unlikely. Dunkerley says that the difficulty that Chinese nationals face getting tourist visas to the US is an "impediment" to Hawaiian launching service to the country despite significant interest from the airline.

Analysts are bullish about these growth prospects. William Greene, senior transportation analyst at Morgan Stanley, said that he expects the company's international growth to "enhance its growth and return profile," in a recent report.

The addition of New York is a big step for Hawaiian. Low yields previously kept the airline out of east coast markets, Dunkerley told Airline Business earlier this year.

Indeed, most US carriers prefer to connect Hawaii bound passengers through hubs in the midwest or west. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines were the exceptions with nonstops to Honolulu from their hubs in Atlanta and Newark, respectively.

Dunkerley says that forward bookings and fares on the New York flight are stronger than forecast, with demand currently better than that for its west coast to Hawaii flights.

Hawaiian is focused on a number of revenue growth opportunities as it continues to expand. Cargo is a big area of growth due to both the launch of new destinations and the additional freight capacity in its A330s compared to its Boeing 767-300s, says Dunkerley. It is also working on expanding its vacation packages and e-commerce businesses.

Hawaiian flight 51 departed New York bound for Honolulu a little after 10:00 today, following a send off with hula dancers and water cannons. The flight arrives and departs from JetBlue's terminal 5 at JFK, where it is the New York-based carrier's first partner to use the dedicated terminal.

Under the carriers' new codeshare partnership, Hawaiian customers can connect to JetBlue flights to Boston, Buffalo, Burlington, Charlotte, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Orlando, Portland (Maine), Raleigh/Durham, Rochester, Syracuse, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news