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Asia Minute: Regional airlines returning to the air — and to Hawaiʻi

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

In two weeks, the United States will lift travel restrictions for passengers fully vaccinated for the coronavirus. A number of international airlines are preparing to return to busier schedules — and that includes several Asia Pacific carriers coming from key markets for Hawaiʻi.

Korean Air will be first out of the gate when it comes to resuming flights to Hawaiʻi.

The airline announced last week that it will fly from Incheon to Honolulu three times a week — starting a week from Wednesday.

On Sunday, Hawaiian Airlines announced it will resume its Sydney to Honolulu route five times a week — starting Dec. 13.

On Friday, Qantas announced it will ramp up some international routes — but not yet to Hawaiʻi.

By January, the airline will fly to Asia Pacific destinations including Singapore, Fiji and Thailand.

All flights are still limited to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families.

Of course, a huge question mark for local businesses is Japan travel.

Japanese citizens can and do come to Hawaiʻi now — but they face a mandatory quarantine when they go home.

That quarantine has been cut to 10 days from two weeks.

But immigration officials have increased their checks of returning passengers — sometimes requiring travelers to record themselves on video at a particular time to prove that they’re abiding by the quarantine rules.

As for Americans wanting to visit Japan, the U.S. Embassy writes on its website that “travel for tourism and most other short-term purposes is still not permitted, and there is no indication that this will change in the short term.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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