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Following a record-breaking year for Hawaii's visitor economy, direct air access and the availability of air seats to the state will continue to be a top priority in 2013 for the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state's tourism agency.
HTA projects that 2013 total scheduled seat capacity is expected to climb 6.8 percent over last year, bringing the estimated total seats to 10.75 million, which would surpass the record high to the state. Contributing to the growth will be additional new routes from the U.S. and Asia-Pacific regions, with service to the islands from Boise, Spokane, San Diego, Taiwan, New Zealand and Tokyo-Narita commencing in the first half of this year.
"The success of our visitor industry has a direct correlation to the increased airlift and we are committed to ensuring that we maintain a strong inventory of air seats to support our industry and our state's economy," said Mike McCartney, HTA president. "Hawaii lost 1.5 million air seats within two years following the (2008) closure of Aloha and ATA airlines and the economic downturn. Through our efforts and collaboration with our industry partners, it has taken us more than three years to gain back more than two million air seats to our state."
In recognition of Hawaii's success in establishing new routes and increasing air seats to the Hawaiian Islands in 2012, three of Hawaii's major airports -- Honolulu, Kahului and Lihue -- won three of the four U.S. Annie Airport Awards for traffic growth presented by the Airline Network News and Analysis, an online publication and resource for the airline industry. The awards were based on statistics to determine which U.S. airports achieved the greatest increase in scheduled seat capacity and notable route and traffic related success. Honolulu International Airport was also recognized as a runner-up for having the most new international routes, behind Los Angeles International Airport.
Hawaii saw an increase of nearly 800,000 air seats in 2012 compared to 2011. HTA has set targets of reaching $14.88 billion in visitor expenditures and 8.16 million visitors for 2013, which would surpass the records set in 2012.