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If there’s any doubt that demand for a destination affects air
service, look no further than the Big Island for reassurance. A
surge in popularity for Hawaii’s largest and southernmost
destination has triggered an uptick in direct flights from the
mainland to what tourism officials are calling Hawaii’s Island of
“Travel agents should note that the Big Island saw a
record-breaking overall 16.1 percent increase in visitors in 2005,”
said George Applegate executive director of the Big Island Visitors
Bureau. “With the new airlift from major carriers, it’s becoming
easier than ever before for people to discover Hawaii’s Big
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to introduce our
beautiful island to even more visitors,” he added.
The latest carrier to join the Big Island bandwagon is ATA
Airlines. Beginning April 27, ATA began nonstop service from
Oakland, Calif., to Hilo International Airport on the island’s
eastern coast. Marking the first direct route from the mainland to
Hilo in more than 20 years, the flight provides an appealing
gateway for clients who want easy access to Hawaii Volcanoes
National Park and the Kohala Coast.
The daily ATA link departs Oakland at 7:35 p.m., and lands in
Hilo at 9:50 p.m. The return trip leaves Hilo at 8:20 a.m., and
touches down in Oakland at 4:15 p.m.
On March 2 of this year, US Airways/America West Airlines
introduced a nonstop flight from Phoenix to Kona International
Airport at Keahole, on the west side of the Big Island. With a
passenger capacity of 190, the new flight offers Phoenix residents
a faster, more convenient way to visit the diverse destination.
“Phoenix is an important visitor base for Hawaii’s Big Island,”
said Applegate. “It’s exciting to have such a direct link to the
southwestern United States.”
The daily flight departs Phoenix at 10:25 a.m., landing in Kona
at 2:12 p.m. The return trip lifts off from Kona at 10:59 p.m.,
arriving in Phoenix at 7:48 a.m. the following day.
In December of 2005, Delta Airlines launched daily direct
transit between Salt Lake City and Kona. The flight, which
originates in Atlanta, leaves the Utah hub at 12:22 p.m., and
arrives in Kona at 2:40 p.m., giving clients time to check into
their lodgings before enjoying their first mai tai and sunset
dinner. Passengers who board in Atlanta don’t have to change planes
during the stop in Salt Lake City. The return flight leaves Kona at
10:50 p.m., which means travelers can enjoy a full day on the Big
Island before heading home.
Other airlines have been doing their part to make the trip to
the Big Island as painless as possible. Since Dec. 3, 2005, Air
Canada has provided direct Saturday service between Vancouver,
B.C., and Kona. The 5:15 p.m. departure whisks clients to the
tropics by 8:35 p.m. For the return redeye, a 9:50 p.m. take-off
results in a 6:25 a.m. next-day arrival in Vancouver.
On a daily basis, Aloha Airlines flies direct to Kona out of
John Wayne airport in Orange County, Calif. Lifting off in the
morning, clients get to Kona by lunchtime, while the midday return
lands in Orange County in the early evening. Travelers flying from
Oakland can book Aloha’s direct flights to Kona on Sunday, Monday,
Friday and Saturday with return service on Sunday, Thursday, Friday
American Airlines runs a daily flight between Los Angeles and
Kona, leaving LAX at 5:50 p.m., and arriving on the island by 8:30
p.m., with an overnight return schedule. For travel during June,
July and August, American Airlines is adding one daily flight
between the two hubs to accommodate the surge of summer
United Airlines keeps Kona busy with daily nonstops from San
Francisco and Los Angeles. On Saturdays, United offers nonstop
roundtrips between Denver and Kona.
US Airways/America West