KAILUA-KONA (AP) – After 14 years of serving the Big Island, financially strapped Japan Airlines has ended its flight between Tokyo and Kona International Airport.
Passengers arriving Friday on JAL Flight 70 from Narita International Airport were greeted with lei and live Hawaiian music, the Big Island Visitors Bureau said.
JAL offered the only direct international flight outside of North America to the Big Island, the bureau said. Since the inaugural Kona flight in June 1996, JAL has carried more than 980,000 visitors between Narita and Kona, it said.
”It is also a vital carrier of Big Island exports including macadamia nuts, papayas, coffee, spirulina, abalone and desalinated sea water to the Japanese market,” the bureau said in a news release.
”The JAL flight is without a doubt the most important international route for Hawaii island. The positive impact it has made on our economy for the last 14 years is highly significant, and we truly hope to welcome JAL back someday,”