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Hawaiian Airlines launches Osaka flights


Hawaiian Airlines today begins nonstop service between Honolulu and Osaka, Japan. Hawaiian initially will use 264-seat Boeing 767-300ER jets on the route before transitioning to the carrier's bigger 294-seat Airbus A330-200 jets later this year.

Osaka will be Hawaiian's second Japanese destination. The airline began service to Tokyo's Haneda airport in November 2010. Hawaiian also launched service to South Korea in 2010, adding nonstop flights to Seoul in January.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley tells Dow Jones Newswires that the carrier has seen a rebound in bookings to Japan. Flights to Japan had dropped by more than 20% year-over-year on some airlines following the nation's earthquake and tsunami disasters in March.

"Bookings are back to pre-tsunami levels," Dunkerley says to Dow Jones.

Underscoring that is Hawaiian's decision to add capacity on its Honolulu-Tokyo route, switching the aircraft on its flights between the cities to A330s from its smaller-capacity 767s. Hawaiian says in a release that the switch "will add nearly 11,000 seats annually to Honolulu from Tokyo."