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Two cultures came together Tuesday morning at the Honolulu International Airport.
Hawaiian Airlines celebrated its inaugural flight to Sendai with song, dance, and food.
“In the short period of time, less than three years, Hawaiian’s entry into the Japanese market — we’re now going to serve with the introduction of Sendai five major cities in Japan which is quite an amazing, amazing feat,” Hawaiian Airlines vice president of product development Blaine Miyasato said.
The flight leaves Hawaii three times a week with the return flight going through Sapporo.
“So we’ll be operating as a triangle that way we’ll be able to pool the demand from those two markets onto a single airplane,” Hawaiian Airlines vice president and chief commercial officer Peter Ingram said.
The Sendai route also marks the carriers 10th new destination in three years. It is the first scheduled service between Hawaii and Sendai since another carrier left the market in 2004.
“We think there’s opportunity to stimulate demand, reach out to an area customers that otherwise had to connect through one of the other gateways in Japan and based on these bookings we’re really excited about how this route is going to perform,” Ingram said.
Travelers Jill and Craig Nakagawa, of Honolulu, are excited as well.
“This is great, this is great. Sendai is beautiful. That’s probably our favorite place very nice. I guess that’s a whole area that’s recovering now so good. It’s great,” Jill Nakagawa said.
The Sendai Airport was closed for more than a month in 2011 due to damage caused by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
“We don’t know how much damage the tsunami had on Sendai, so this is the first time we are going back to Sendai,” Craig Nakagawa said.
“We’re pleased to make that connection and be one of the first international carriers to come in with new service,” Ingram said.