Korean Air To Return To Hawaii With The Airbus A330

Seoul-based Korean Air has revealed that it will return to Hawaii in a couple of weeks. From November 3rd, the airline will resume flights to Honolulu. The route has been suspended since April 3rd due to the impact of the pandemic. The relaunch is connected to an increasing number of tourists traveling to the islands.

Korean Air, Airbus A330, Honolulu
Korean Air will return to Hawaii with its Airbus A330 aircraft. Photo: Korean Air

Across the aviation industry, it is now full steam ahead to return to the skies following the industry’s worst-ever crisis. While things looked incredibly bleak last April and even earlier this year, increasing vaccine rates worldwide have led to fewer border restrictions and thus an increased demand to travel.

Returning to Hawaii

Precisely 19 months after it last flew to Honolulu, Korean Air is set to return. From November 3rd, the carrier will fly across the Pacific Ocean to the holiday destination. Flights will be operated by the Airbus A330 three times a week, departing from Seoul Incheon Airport on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday to the following schedule,

  • KE053 will depart from Incheon Airport (ICN) at 20:35. The Airbus A330 is then scheduled to arrive in Honolulu (HNL) at 10:00.
  • KE054 will then depart from Honolulu after a short turnaround at 11:40. The flight will cross the international dateline on the way back home, arriving back home at 1745.
Korean Air, Airbus A330, Honolulu
The flight from Seoul to Honolulu crosses the international dateline. Photo: Cirium

Korean Air will face direct competition on the route from Hawaiian Airlines. However, this shouldn’t be too much of a bother for the carrier, given that it codeshares on the Hawaiian Airlines flights, which the Airbus A330 also operates.

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Before the pandemic, Korean Air operated twice-daily flights between the two destinations. This means that the route will operate with roughly an 80% reduction due to suppressed passenger numbers. Increasing demand has prompted the limited return of the route through. According to the airline, 200 Korean tourists visited Hawaii in January. This grew to 1,000 a month more recently.

A huge tourist destination

Korean Air isn’t the only airline with a focus on flying tourists to Hawaii. Honolulu is also a key tourist destination for neighboring ANA. For ANA, the demand was so high that the airline procured three A380s just for the route. To date, ANA hasn’t seen enough demand to warrant even returning one A380 to the route. As such, the giant turtles continue to fly tourists on charter flights around Japan.

ANA A380 Airbus
ANA acquired the A380 solely for flights to Honolulu. Photo: Airbus

ANA did operate a couple of scheduled flights recently, though. In August, the airline operated two rotations to Hawaii with the Airbus A380. Though counting as scheduled flights, these rotations were strictly limited to two, with no exact date for when the aircraft may return to the Pacific skies for good.

What do you make of Korean Air’s return to Honolulu? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!