Hawaii Skies Looking Up

Airlines taking off with new routes and services

By: Dawna Robertson

It’s up in the air for Hawaii’s airline industry these days but not in a negative way. With the addition of go!, mainland route expansion by Hawaiian, and neighbor island route increases by both Aloha and Island Air, travelers’ options are sky high in fun and flexibility.
Digging deeper into the mainland market, Hawaiian Airlines is expanding its fleet with four new 767s. According to Kirk Smith, vice president of marketing and sales, the expansion indicates the carrier’s deepening ties to the Islands.

“Hawaiian continues to be committed to the destination of Hawaii,” explained Smith. “In September, we’ll be introducing nonstop service between San Diego and Kahului, Maui in response to growing demand.

“We’re also upping Maui’s Portland service from three flights a week to daily, and Maui’s Seattle service from four weekly flights to daily,” Smith reported. “Based on this increased service, we expect that our West Coast fares will be very competitive this fall.”

Both will begin on Oct. 13.

Hawaiian has also introduced the Hawaiian Airlines Activities Card, a prepaid card offering unlimited access to several participating attractions and activities on Oahu, plus discounts at other venues. Hawaiian plans to add neighbor island activities as well.

“Activities are part of the overall Hawaiian experience,” noted Smith. “Once we help travelers reach the Islands, we want them to experience as much as they can.”

“We’re giving Hawaii travelers more choices to take the hassle out of vacation planning,” added Ethan Lynette, Hawaiian’s senior director of partner marketing. “Rather than visiting multiple travel sites to plan a vacation in the islands, they can save money purchasing their air, car, hotel and now activities through Hawaiian’s Web site.”

Hawaiian is the only carrier serving Hawaii to offer visitors the cost-saving benefits and convenience of the activity card. The card is available to anyone and can be purchased on Hawaiian’s web site under the “Activities” button.

Hawaiian Airlines also offers prepaid activity cards for Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle. Through the airline’s concierge service, travelers choose from a variety of activities to book in advance.

Hawaii’s new interisland carrier, go!, expanded its service earlier this summer between Hilo and Honolulu. A division of Mesa Air Group, go! offers fares as low as $39.

“Hilo is an extremely important addition to our interisland service,” said Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa Air Group chairman and CEO. “We’re happy to provide Hilo residents and those who visit Hilo with affordable interisland travel as we’ve promised.”

Ornstein noted that summer bookings have exceeded the company’s expectations. “We are optimistic that we will be able to continue to add additional service in the months and years ahead,” he said.

Hilo to Honolulu service is covered with six roundtrips daily starting from 6:10 a.m., with the last flight at 7:48 p.m. Passengers traveling to Hilo from Honolulu can also fly six roundtrips each day departing as late as 9:30 p.m.

The carrier operates flights between Honolulu and Lihue, Kahului, Kona and Hilo. Passengers registering for the go! Miles frequent flyer program earn mileage redeemable for future travel. For registering, passengers receive 500 miles.

Aloha Airlines, which recently has operated on a strict hub-and-spoke system for its interisland flights, has decided to ease away from that in the fall. Aloha has not flown directly between any two neighbor island locations since May 2004. Now it plans to connect Kahului with both Lihue and Kona.

Beginning Sept. 1, Aloha will offer two flights daily from Kahului, Maui to Lihue, Kauai, and two flights daily from Kahului to Kona International Airport on the Big Island.

“Aloha is responding to our customers’ wishes, making it easier and faster to travel between the islands on the only Boeing 737 jets in Hawaii,” remarked CEO David Banmiller.

Kahului flights depart for Lihue at 11:20 a.m. and 1:40 p.m., and for Kona at 9:35am and 3:55 p.m. Flights from Lihue return to Kahului at 12:30 p.m. and 2:48 p.m., while Kona flights bound for Kahului depart at 10:27 a.m. and 4:50 p.m.

A former Aloha Airlines subsidiary, Island Air is seeing plenty of activity, from its new frequent flier program to a special hot tickets program. The commuter airline’s Cloud 9 offers a free roundtrip ticket to those completing 18 one-way or nine round trips. Membership is available on the company’s web site.

Island Air has also introduced “The Best Seats in the House” contest to celebrate its second anniversary. The promotion offers free tickets to the hottest concerts, plays, movies and community events in Hawaii. The carrier will award one “Best Seats in the House” prize package monthly through December.

Those registering must be legal residents of the United States at 18 years of age. Entries can be filled out online at islandair.com. Only one entry per month per prize package is allowed and it must be completed by the last business day of each month.

Monthly prizes will include two interisland roundtrip tickets ($170 value) plus the “Best Seat in the House” to a concert, play, movie or community event.