executive impact

Hawaiian eye

By Chris Betros

If there ever was any doubt about the demand for flights to and from Haneda airport, that was dispelled just before midnight on Nov 19 when Hawaiian Airlines launched its first service from Haneda to Hawaii. The Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, which seats 264 passengers, was full. It was a gratifying sight for Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Mark Dunkerley who has been to Japan around 10 times this year, lobbying for Hawaiian Airlines.

Dunkerley, who holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the London School of Business and a Master's degree in Aeronautics from the Crane Institute of Technology in 1985, has worked at Miami International Airport, served as a vice president and manager of British Airways, was COO and president of Worldwide Flight Services, and COO of Belgian airline Sabena before joining Hawaiian Airlines in 2002. He has held his current position since 2005.

Hawaiian’s outbound flight departs Haneda daily at 11:59 p.m. and arrives at Honolulu International Airport at 12:05 p.m. the same day. It leaves Honolulu daily at 6:05 p.m., arriving at Haneda at 10:05 p.m. the next night. The airline is counting on Japanese customers taking the late-night flight after a full day’s work.

The new Tokyo-Honolulu route is a key step in Hawaiian’s long-term plan to expand its service in Asia and other destinations using up to 27 new Airbus A330s and A350s that the company plans to integrate into its fleet over the coming decade.

Japan Today editor Chris Betros catches up with Dunkerley on the morning before the inaugural flight from Haneda to Hawaii to hear more.

How often do you travel?

Overall, I’m traveling about 10 days a month either to the U.S. mainland or where we are looking to open up new routes. I have been to Japan 10 times this year, usually for one or two days.

How long has Hawaiian been interested in Japan?

We have been trying to get into Japan since I joined the company eight years ago. During that time, we have been focused on finding the right opportunity. That didn’t really arise until Haneda opened up. I think that we, above all other U.S. airlines, worked very hard to encourage our government to reach the agreement that led to this opportunity.

What about Narita?

It’s not that we weren’t interested in Narita. It was a question of securing attractive times, slots and facilities. It is important, when making a large investment to come into a new market like this, to do so in favorable conditions. Haneda’s attraction is its location in Tokyo.

How did you do your market research?

We have had a presence in Japan for a long time and a long relationship with Japanese tour operators, so we are well known. We sell a lot of tickets to people wishing to fly between the islands of the state of Hawaii. So we looked at the economic data, counting the number of passengers each season who fly back and forth between Japan and Hawaii, and we had close consultations with the travel trade.

You are not just selling a seat on a plane, but a destination, aren’t you?

That’s right. We work extremely closely with the tourism authority. We are selling the Hawaii experience. That’s one of the reasons I am chairman of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. In the eyes of consumers around the world, Hawaii stands for not only warmth and sunshine but a host culture that is all embracing. All of those attributes we bring to our onboard service. Where we distinguish ourselves against competitors is by wrapping ourselves in the Hawaiian experience. Our passengers start their holiday the second they step on our plane.

We put all of flight attendants and customer service agents through training in the expectation and needs of Japanese customers. This isn’t just another route for us. This represents a level of commitment to this marketplace that is over and above what you would anticipate.

What about the onboard experience?

The music and ambiance are Hawaiian. The blankets are a Hawaiian quilt. We have changed the menu selection to better appeal to Japanese; it’s not just Japanese food, a lot is Hawaiian food delivered in ways that will be more accommodating to Japanese. Photos of food on the menu make it easier for Japanese customers to order. We have three Japanese flight attendants on each flight.

What aircraft are you using?

A Boeing 767 for the first six months and then we will be switching to the Airbus A330. We offer two classes.

What are your long-range plans?

We want to expand in Asia. In January, we will start a direct flight to Seoul (Incheon), and we hope that another destination will be secured sometime in 2011. There is a good chance it may be another Japanese city.

What can you tell us about your partnership with ANA?

ANA is a very important partner. We both feel confident that we can deliver value to one another. For us, being able to code-share with ANA and connect their customers onto our services is very important because Hawaiian Airlines provides the best service between the islands. They are in a great position to help teach us the ropes of selling to the Japanese marketplace.

What trends do you see in international aviation in the future?

Alliances today really are the relief valve for the pressure that has built up because, unlike most industries, in aviation, cross-border mergers are very problematic. I think as we go forward, we will see alliances playing a larger role. There will be more passengers on the move, and nowhere will that be more evident than in Asia. The economic prospects of the region combined with the demographics mean that Asia is going to be the engine of many airlines’ growth.

What do you like most about your job?

The things I enjoy most are setting the medium and long-term vision and direction and putting the resources in place so that the steps between here and there can take place. The other thing I like is spending time with employees. That is absolutely at the top of my list. When I need a pick-me-up, I go out to the airport to see the operation.

When you fly, which class do you fly in?

I travel in both classes. I like to talk to the crew and I know most of our employees on a first-name basis. The people we have working for us are consummate professionals, so I never intervene. If I have observations, I share them later.

Do you ever check out your competition?

Definitely, if I have to fly somewhere that Hawaiian does not go to. If you believe in continual improvement of your services, you have got to be very aware of what competitors are doing. No one airline or business is the sole depository of good ideas.

I understand you are a pilot?

Yes, I’m flying two planes at the moment, an unlimited-level aerobatic aircraft called a Giles 202, and I fly a Hawaiian Airlines original airplane. The airline is 81 years old and we have the original 1929 Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker. On Sunday afternoons, I take employees for rides in it. There is never enough time to go flying.

For further information, visit http://www.hawaiianair.com/ or http://www.hawaiianairlines.co.jp/

© Japan Today

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

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we have the original 1929 Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker. On Sunday afternoons, I take employees for rides in it.

1929? Called a Pacemaker? I wouldn't get on that even if the CEO paid me to.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Never could figure out why the Japanese r so much into Hawaii. Maybe the hrs. required to fly. However, the mainland, especially West Coast is not that much longer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love flying Hawaiian airlines, however the gate times granted to them at Haneda makes me less likely to fly them to Japan. Arriving at around 11pm basically makes me lose two days when I arrive.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'll go to Hawaii on Wednesday (business trip), but I stick to JAL, I'm used to it and the service, and it was actually cheaper. but what's with the 11:59 pm, are they allowed to fly that late? and it's not really appealing to enjoy the first meal at 1:30 am...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

From what I have read and heard from Japanese people, the late-night departure from Haneda is very popular because it allows Japanese to go after a full day of work. Apparently, flights have been fully booked since the service started. I'm sure Hawaiian did their research.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Never could figure out why the Japanese r so much into Hawaii."

MeLikeJapan: Maybe it's the mild weather, beautiful beaches, spectacular scenery, etc.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )


Never could figure out why the Japanese are so much into Hawaii.

What paulinusa said plus, if any Japanese politician tasked with improving tourism in Japan would care to look, the number of business people and clerks who speak Japanese and the number of signs in Japanese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

MeLikeJapan, are you serious??!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The Honolulu Marathon was today in Hawaii. Of the 20,000 plus participants, at least 1/2 were from Japan. Most came on JTB packages but saw HIS stickers on some runners too. Hawaiian Airlines should try to get in on the action. I understand JAL puts on maybe 20 plus extra flights to bring the Japanese participants to Hawaii.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

smartacus, that makes perfect sense, and my JAL flight is at 22:30. my point was that 23:59 is too late. and since I lived near Haneda for a while, I know that there was some rule against night flights, for people in the area to be able to sleep

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Haneda is only open for long haul flights (>3000 KM) when Narita is closed hence the odd hours of the longer flights from the airport. It has given all of us somew great new options, especially if you live in Central Tokyo. @timeon: Why would you want to eat at 1:30 AM anyway? Just go to sleep. If you knew anything about flying long haul and how to reduce the effects of jetlag then you wouldn't be eating and defintely not drinking alcohol on a long haul flight anyway.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I think it is cool, but he should chill on the Lip Stick. Unbecoming of a CEO.

@rainman: Drinking before the late night long haul is good. Makes you sleepy and not want to eat the food on the plane, and alcohol is good too, as it keeps you awake by making you have to hit the head all the time. Healthier to walk around to stop blood clots, but in a stupor because you are tired as heck from all the food.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@goddog: Drinking before a late night long haul is plain silly. Leaves you dehydrated. Xanax is the way forward Don't need to walk around all the time if you are on a flat seat. Sleep is the key to getting through jetlag, very simple.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@okapake You have to take into account how many long range jets Hawaiian currently has and how many US Mainland routes the also have. Hawaiian will need more planes, which they have ordered, but will not necessarily be pressed into Japan routes. Hawaiian's core customers are the residents of Hawaii so the company needs to see a demand before they further expand.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

rainman, I like my wine on a long flight, goes well with the 2-3 movies I usually watch. not everybody can sleep in that bloody narrow space. I may do some work as well, but recently I'm lazy/tired enough not to. I can go without too much sleep, so it's actually supportable. Of course I envy those who pass out during take off and wake up upon landing. different genes

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Long haul? Japan-Hawaii is maybe 8 hours? I fly from Newark-Narita 13-14 hours and have flown non-stop to China and Southeast Asia 16-18 hours non-stop, now THAT'S long haul. Anyway, at least after a long flight you step off the plane in Honolulu and that warm breeze and tropical scent hits your face. Any stress from back home quickly disappears; that's one more reason why the Japanese like Hawaii.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Anything over 7 hours is defined long-haul..and yes, I fly to the USA and UK often so I am well aware of what a 'long haul flight' is. Spot on paulinusa on why the Japanese like Hawaii though. Personally don't like it - I like to actually escape when I leave Japan not find myself in an annexed prefecture.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I'd say that finding yourself in an annexed prefecture would indicate your travel is not quite finished. Bop on over to one of the other isles.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

haha - fair enough. Point taken. To clarify what I said, I think there are better beaches/better food/better shopping in both Asia and on the West Coast of the States. Hawaii just not my favourite place..in general. Oahu, Maui or the Big Island. Sorry.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

It would be helpful if they listed the fare as a reference. How much would these flights cost?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dunkerley, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the London School of Business and a Master’s degree in Aeronautics from the Crane Institute of Technology in 1985

What? I mean Aeronautics is difficult enough for a engineering student, never mention a guy from business school. I got my Master’s degree in Aircraft Design last year. Let me tell you, IT IS NOT EASY. That guy must be a genius.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

swordfish2502: He is smart, he's an Englishman who found a way to live and work in Hawaii.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Wanted to get that flight, but it was fully booked. Got myself on Jal bore instead. 9AM return as well.. Ouch.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

swordfish2502: He is smart, he's an Englishman who found a way to live and work in Hawaii.


0 ( +0 / -0 )

win-win situation for both sides of the pacific ocean!!..everyone can not worry of giving-up their work day and still make time to get to the airport and ride the redeye flight..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@rainman1 and you talking about ESCAPING FROM JAPAN... lol JAPAN is way better then AMERICA LMAO

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1 ( +3 / -2 )

In ritain those who want a home from home go to the Costa Brava every year, ( I call them lazy tourists). In Japan Hawaii is their Costa Brava.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

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