Alaska Airlines Embraces the Big Island

New non-stop flight between Kona and Seattle “kicks off” winter travel season

By: By Katie Mastro

Winter can be a cold (and rainy) season for many North Americans, especially those in the Pacific Northwest, but for travelers wishing to escape the chilly weather, Alaska Airlines is offering a non-stop flight from Seattle to Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

“This new direct flight on Alaska Airlines is a very positive way to kick off our winter travel season,” said George Applegate, executive director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau. “It’s one of the bright spots on our island’s economic horizon.”

According to Applegate, Seattle was one of the Big Island’s fastest-growing markets in 2007, and arrivals from Washington State, on a statewide basis, are up 5.6 percent, even though arrivals from other U.S. markets are down.

The new flights will be offered year-round, adding 57,000 seats per year. Flights that depart from Seattle at 8:40 a.m. PST arrive in Kona at 1 p.m. Hawaii-time, and return flights depart at 2 p.m. Hawaii-time, arriving in Seattle at 9:40 p.m. PST. All flights will take place onboard Boeing 737-800s, with 16 first-class seats and 141 seats in the main cabin.

The new flight is one of several that will make winter warmer for North American travelers looking to escape the cold by visiting Hawaii's Big Island. A new weekly direct flight from Vancouver to Kona aboard Air Canada starts Dec. 13, adding up to 1,100 seats per month, and WestJet, which launched a seasonal direct flight between Vancouver and Kona last year, resumes on Dec. 18. WestJet's twice-weekly flight is expected to bring up to 1,400 passengers per month. Growth in established service and the addition of new flights adds up to an increase in air seat capacity to the Island of Hawaii-air seats will be up 1.7 percent in the first quarter of 2009, compared to first quarter of 2008.

Of the decision to launch the new Alaska Airlines service, Brad Walker, managing director of leisure and group travel marketing said: "Seattle and the rest of the Pacific Northwest are heading into winter, and temperatures have already started dipping into the low 40s. Who doesn't want to escape to a warm, tropical paradise like Hawaii's Big Island? We anticipate this route will be one of our most popular.”

Alaska Airlines