Hawaiian Airlines will suspend its three weekly nonstop flights between Honolulu International airport (HNL) and New Chitose Airport (CTS) in Sapporo from 2 April through 18 July due to coronavirus risks, cutting into its revenue hopes for its Japan network.
The carrier, which has served Sapporo since 2012, aims to resume service 21 July. Hawaiian on 17 March says in a statement that it will assist guests impacted by the network change with refunds or accommodations on alternative flights.
“We remain committed to supporting guests traveling between Japan and Hawai‘i,” Hawaiian Airlines senior vice-president for global sales Theo Panagiotoulias says in a statement. “Sapporo is a critical city in our Japan network and we look forward to resuming service in the summer.”
This route suspension comes as Hawaiian plans to suspend thrice-weekly service between Kona and Haneda on 28 March, along with four-times-weekly service between Honolulu and Haneda through April. This change is part of the carrier’s overall plan to trim capacity by 8-10% in April and 15-20% in May to match the lack of flight demand compared with its original 2020 capacity goal.
“We know this will not be our new normal, but we can’t know when health experts and community mitigation efforts will bring the spread of the virus under control – or when travel apprehension will fade,” Hawaiian Airlines chief executive Peter Ingram said in a 13 March statement.
Ingram added that the carrier will freeze hiring, review third-party contracts and defer non-essential aircraft painting to save costs amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Hawaiian vice-president of network planning Brent Overbeek told Cirium in January that expanding its network to new locations in Japan and increasing connections within that nation was a key part of the airline’s 2020 growth strategy.
Japan also hoped for a tourism and travel boom in 2020 during the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to begin 24 July, right after Hawaiian aims to resume flights to Sapporo.