Arrivals From Australia To Hawaii Up 41.3% So Far In 2011 ~ Airline To Add New Route

Australian airline plans Brisbane-Oahu flights

Strategic is expected to offer three trips a week beginning late this year

By Dave Segal
Article from: Star-Advertiser

Michael James, who started Brisbane-based Strategic Airlines less than two years ago, has his sights set on Honolulu as the carrier’s first U.S. destination. James is the managing director of the airline and CEO of the parent company, Strategic Aviation Group.

Strategic Airlines, a 22-month-old Australian carrier, plans to announce in the next two weeks that it will inaugurate nonstop service between Brisbane and Honolulu later this year.

Heather Jeffery, spokeswoman for the Brisbane-based carrier, confirmed today from Australia that it is the airline’s intention to announce new routes “in the next fortnight” and that Brisbane-Honolulu will be one of the new services. She said operations are expected to begin in November or December.

Strategic applied with the U.S. Department of Transportation last month to fly between Australia and the United States and proposed that its first route be Brisbane-Honolulu.

The airline is expected to fly between the two cities three times a week starting in December, said David Uchiyama, Hawaii Tourism Authority vice president of brand management. He said the new service from Brisbane would open the state to a new market because all the airlines now flying to the islands from Australia come out of Sydney.

“Strategically, it’s important because we’d be able to draw from a different part of the country without them having to transit through Sydney,” Uchiyama said.

“They were here a couple of weeks ago, and we had meetings with them and they met with the state and with some industry partners. If the Brisbane departures are successful, they’d consider originating out of Melbourne.”

Australia has been a burgeoning market for Hawaii, with Hawaiian Airlines, Jetstar Airways and Qantas Airways all carrying Australian visitors to the islands. There were 143,742 visitors from Australia who came to Hawaii in 2010, up 18.3 percent from 2009.

Through the first five months of 2011, Australia arrivals are up 41.3 percent to 78,708 from 55,727 in the corresponding period in 2010, while daily per person spending is ahead 22.3 percent to $253.77 from $207.74.

Strategic has one long-range A330-200 aircraft and six A320-200s that are used for short- and medium-range flights. The company plans to add two Airbus A330s within six months, said Damien Vasta, executive commercial officer for its parent company, Strategic Aviation Group.

Strategic uses its lone 273-seat A330 to fly from Brisbane to Bali, Indonesia, and Phuket, Thailand, as well as between Melbourne and Phuket.

Jeffery, the carrier’s spokeswoman, said the airline plans to re-brand and rename itself later this year.

Several news outlets in Australia reported the airline’s new name likely will be Air Australia.

“Hawaii is definitely in our planning as well as China,” she said.

The airline is privately held by 34-year-old entrepreneur Michael James, its managing director and Strategic Aviation Group CEO.