Hawaiian Airlines new nonstop flight to Beijing is meeting expectations, as the carrier works with its partners to market Hawaii as a destination in China.
“The early returns are absolutely in line with what we anticipated,” says Mark Dunkerley, chief executive of the Honolulu-based carrier, at the IATA annual general meeting in Doha.
Hawaiian launched three-times weekly service between Honolulu and Beijing Capital International airport with a 294-seat Airbus A330-200 in mid-April. The route is its first to mainland China.
The airline is gaining traction with the travel and trade industry in China, as well as working with partners in Hawaii, to promote the islands as a destination for Chinese visitors, says Dunkerley.
These efforts include consumer events that emphasise the cultural aspects of China at shopping malls in Beijing, he says.
Hawaiian has implemented a codeshare with Star Alliance carrier Air China that includes both carriers flights between Honolulu and Beijing, as well as select beyond flights that give Hawaiian passengers access to Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang in China.
“We’re very focused on China and Air China as our key partner there,” says Dunkerley, when asked whether Hawaiian was considering codeshares with any other Chinese carriers.
Hawaiian’s network in Asia remains in flux. It ended flights to Taipei on 7 April – less than a week before the Beijing service began – and will discontinue flights to Fukuoka on 29 June. A lack of demand was cited for both route changes.
Australia and New Zealand are an area of strength for Hawaiian. The airline recently announced plans to shift its four-weekly Brisbane flights to a larger A330-200 from a Boeing 767-300ER in December and executives are positive on the performance of both its Auckland and Sydney routes.
“We do think there’s growth opportunities there,” says Dunkerley. Cairns and Melbourne are markets that the carrier is “watching”, he says, but he does not comment on whether there are any immediate plans to expand in the region.