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Hong Kong Airlines to fly Naha route

Date Posted: 2010-08-26

A second Hong Kong airline, Hong Kong Airlines, will begin regular flights between Hong Kong and Naha starting in September.

Hong Kong Airlines will make four round-trip night flights using a Boeing 737 aircraft on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The airline joins its sister company, Hong Kong Express, which already flies round trips to Naha on a daily basis. Okinawa’s Vice Governor, Yoshiyuki Uehara, has been in China discussing increased aviation business with that country. Uehara’s discussions included creating new business companies to provide aircraft maintenance as well as beefing up overseas tourism. He met with aviation officials, including those from Hong Kong Express and Hong Kong Airline, to increase flights frequency and inaugurate new services.

Okinawa Prefecture’s looking into ways to provide aviation and aircraft services directly to foreign airlines. Airport operations, to include check-in counters and baggage services, fuel supplies, aircraft cleaning and maintenance are currently accomplished by Japan Air Line companies. JAL, now working to emerge from bankruptcy, is reducing the numbers of its workers, and is unable to handle increased service requirements new charter or commercial scheduled flights would entail. The new company, Uehara says, will be best, and adds Okinawa Prefecture will invest in the new company, which it plans to ask All Nippon Airways to manage.

Tourism is growing, with 50 charter flights coming from Beijing carrying 8,000 tourists, and others are coming from Bangkok and other Asian destinations. Vice Governor Uehara says the increased travel numbers means the runway at Naha International Airport must be increased, and a new international air terminal must be built. Japan’s Transport Ministry says it’s hoping to get in on the expanded growth in the number of Chinese travelers. “We are planning regular flights by the carrier linking Hong Kong with Narita and Haneda airports,” a ministry spokesman says.

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