Hawaiian Airlines ‘preparing for Japanese market’: CEO

As Japan begins to open its borders to outbound travel after a three-month restriction in response to the Omicron variant, Pacific airlines are gearing up to reap the benefits of increased travel activity to and from originating from the East Asian nation.

“We are preparing for the opening of the Japanese market, which is the most important international market for Hawaii over the next few months,” Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram told Yahoo Finance Live in a recent post. interview. “We are really monitoring this situation very closely. And that’s going to dictate a lot of how our schedules look for the summer.

Travelers from Japan typically make up the largest group of tourists to Hawaii, according to Hawaii Public Radio. In 2019, Hawaii welcomed 1.5 million arrivals from Japan, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported.

A surfboard concession stand is closed on Waikiki beach due to the downturn in business caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States, April 28, 2020. Picture taken on 28 April 2020. REUTERS/Marco Garcia

The Japanese government has announced that it will increase the limit for new arrivals from 5,000 to 7,000 per day and, as of April 1, will increase this figure to 10,000. The eleventh most populous country in the world has been a bit of an outlier regarding international travel restrictions in recent months, taking a more aggressive approach to limiting potential coronavirus outbreaks.

“I think there is the same potential for [increased demand] on the international side, as policy changes are put in place in places like Australia, which we’ve seen before, and then Japan and Korea, which are starting to loosen some of their restrictions on cross-border travel,” said Ingram said. “And that positions us pretty well.”

Visitors wearing protective face masks walk under New Year's decorations on Nakamise Street leading to Senso-ji Temple in the Asakusa district, a popular tourist spot, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan on December 24, 2021.REUTERS/Issei Kato

Visitors wearing protective face masks walk under New Year’s decorations on Nakamise Street leading to Senso-ji Temple in the Asakusa district, a popular tourist spot, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan on December 24, 2021.REUTERS/Issei Kato

In November, Japan closed its border to non-Japanese travelers in response to the appearance of the Omicron variant. Even now, access to Japan from the United States is extremely limited. Tourist travel is still not allowed in Japan.

“We’ve seen a big recovery in terms of domestic leisure travel demand and domestic Hawaii travel demand,” Ingram said. “[The recovery] got a little shaken up at the end of the year with the Delta surge and then the Omicron surge at the end of the year. But as we enter 2022, and come down from this peak in the Omicron business, demand is very strong and is shaping up to be a good summer domestically.

Ihsaan Fanusie is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @IFanusie.

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