HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaiian Airlines plans to begin flying from Honolulu to Osaka, the third Asian city the airline has added to its route map in less than a year.
Hawaiian expects to begin operating the daily route on July 12 if it receives Japanese government approval.
Osaka sits at the center of the Kansai region, which is the second most populous metropolitan area in Japan after Tokyo.
Kansai International Airport, where Hawaiian plans to operate, serves Kobe, Kyoto and other cities in western Japan as well as Osaka.
"Our new service will help meet strong travel demand from Osaka, and provide a welcome boost to Hawaii tourism," airlines president Mark Dunkerley said in a statement.
Japan and Delta airlines already fly between Honolulu and Osaka.
Mike McCartney, president of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said hundreds of people who live in the Kansai area are traveling to Hawaii each day through Tokyo or Seoul's Incheon airport. He said this indicates there's demand in the area that's not currently being met.
"It's an underserved market," McCartney said in a telephone interview. "This connects an important part of Japan to Hawaii."
Until 2008, Hawaiian had flown passengers primarily around the Hawaiian islands and between Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast. The airline has added Asia routes as part of a goal to make the region an important source of traffic.
Hawaiian's first route to Asia was to Manila in March 2008. Last year, it launched a daily flight to Tokyo's Haneda International Airport and last month it began flying to Seoul's Incheon airport four times a week.
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