Hawaiian Airlines plans to introduce nonstop service between Honolulu and Seoul-Incheon International Airport starting in January 2011, pending approval from South Korea's Ministry of...

Hawaiian Airlines plans to introduce nonstop service between Honolulu and Seoul-Incheon International Airport starting in January 2011, pending approval from South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM).

The news follows Hawaiian Airlines’ announcement of plans to begin daily service between Honolulu and Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport later this year and the carrier sees the Honolulu-Seoul Incheon service as the latest step in its long-term plans to expand its network in Asia.

“The addition of Incheon is an important step in our vision to expand Hawaiian’s business into the fastest growing region in the world. This new nonstop service from one of the world’s largest gateway cities will increase visitors to Hawaii not only from Korea, but from all of Asia,” says Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO.

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According to Hawaiian Airlines, South Korea is a key visitor market targeted by Hawaii’s state tourism marketers as one offering significant potential for growth with its recent addition to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Seoul, the nation’s capital city, has grown into a massive metropolis with a population of more than 11 million people, representing almost 25 per cent of the entire county’s population.

Its modern international airport at Incheon (ICN) is one of the largest air traffic hubs in Asia and has been recognized by Airports Council International as the Best Airport Worldwide for five consecutive years.

“Incheon welcomes Hawaiian Airlines,” says C.W. Lee, president and CEO of Incheon International Airport Corporation. “We have been looking forward to this new service, because in less than two years with the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) between the USA and South Korea, the number of Korean travelers to Hawaii has exploded, with a record-breaking increase of 91 perc ent in the first quarter of 2010.”

Hawaiian will initially operate its new service four times weekly using 264-seat Boeing 767-300ERs, adding more than 54,000 new air seats annually between Honolulu and Incheon. The company plans to increase service on the route in 2011 as its long range fleet expansion progresses.

Flight HA459 is planned to depart Honolulu International Airport on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 1:15 p.m. and arrive at Incheon International Airport at 8:00 p.m. the following day. Flight HA460 will depart Incheon on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 10:00 p.m. and arrive in Honolulu at 10:45 a.m. the same day. South Korea is 19 hours ahead of Honolulu and the flight crosses the International Dateline.

Hawaiian says it designed its flight schedule for the convenience of Hawaii visitors from Seoul, with the departure taking place after a day of work, followed by a late-morning arrival allowing for time to enjoy a full first afternoon in Hawaii and easy flight connections to the Neighbor Islands.

The 11-hour flight between Honolulu and Incheon will cover a distance of approximately 4,500 miles. HawaiianMiles members can immediately start earning and redeeming mileage award benefits on the new flights.

Hawaiian Airlines is also expansing its codesharing agreement with Korean Air will be expanded to include Hawaiian’s new flights to Incheon, pending MLTM approval. This means Korean Air’s two-letter flight designator ‘KE’ will be attached to Hawaiian’s flights between Incheon and Honolulu in global reservations systems, allowing both carriers to market the service.

“This reinforces our seamless service with Hawaiian Airlines,” says John Jackson, Korean Air’s director of marketing for the Americas. “Korean Air customers are being offered more choices and that’s good for both airlines. We look forward to expanding this valuable partnership.”

Under the carriers’ codeshare agreement, travelers were already able to book flights with Hawaiian that are operated by Korean Air between Honolulu and Incheon in South Korea, and Bangkok, Thailand, as well as flights within South Korea between Incheon and Busan.

Travelers can also continue to book flights with Korean Air that are operated by Hawaiian between the islands of Hawaii, as well as Hawaiian’s transpacific flights between Hawaii and the mainland U.S.

Hawaiian and Korean Air say they plan to continue expanding their code sharing agreement by adding service to more destinations in Asia.