State briefs for September 28

Retailer DFS Hawaii announces plans to lay off 165 employees

HONOLULU — Retail firm DFS Hawaii plans to lay off 165 of its 660 employees in three locations across Hawaii’s islands, officials said.

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Financial losses due to decreases in the international travel market prompted the staff reductions announced Thursday, company officials said.

“International travel to Hawaii from Asia has been in a downward trend for many months and there is no foreseeable indication this will be reversed in the near term,” said Tim DeLessio, president of Global Store Operations for Hong Kong-based DFS Group.

DFS Hawaii says positions are expected to be cut at two Oahu locations including T Galleria in Waikiki and the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, as well as the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport on the Big Island.

The affected employees worked in the management, sales, operations, and clerical departments. Eligible workers will receive severance packages based on their individual years of service, officials said.

DFS Hawaii caters largely to international travelers. The company’s flagship store in Waikiki opened in 1975 and is now the chain’s sixth largest galleria store worldwide. The first DFS Hawaii duty-free shop in the United States was established at what was previously known as Honolulu International Airport, now the Inouye International Airport.

“A marked drop in visitor expenditures and an overall softening in consumer sentiment, combined with the high costs that we are paying to remain in Hawaii, meant we could not delay the inevitable any longer,” DeLessio said in a statement. “This was a difficult decision, forced by a difficult environment.”

Southwest announces continued growth of Hawaii air service

HONOLULU — Southwest Airlines expects to more than quadruple its daily number of seats flying into and between Hawaii’s islands before the completion of its first year of Hawaii service, officials said.

The airline credits strong customer demand for its Hawaii growth.

The Dallas-based carrier began flying to Hawaii in March with one daily, round-trip flight between Honolulu and Oakland, California, company officials said.

Southwest expects to fly between Honolulu and Lihue, Hawaii, and Honolulu and Sacramento, California, beginning in November rather than its previous target of January, officials said.

“We’re also moving up our timeline on two routes set to begin in January, and instead will fly them this year,” Adam Decaire, vice president of network planning, said in a statement.

The company plans to add daily service beginning in March 2020 between the islands and California cities including Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose, officials said.

The new Hawaii service increases Southwest’s trans-Pacific seat capacity with daily access to 24 unique departures and 4,200 one-way seats between California and four Hawaii airports.

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A previously announced expansion of 34 unique departures offering 5,950 one-way, interisland seats across five Hawaii airports is expected in time for holiday customers. The increases are expected to result in a combined 10,150 seats per day on Hawaii routes, officials said.

The carrier’s expansion was delayed by the Federal Aviation Administration’s grounding in March of Boeing 737 Max jets, which is ongoing.

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