Sign Up for Our Monthly Hawaii Newsletter
Each night, dozens of flights arrive at Honolulu International
Airport, and for some passengers, the island of Oahu is not their
final destination. These visitors may have to spend the first night
of their vacation in a hotel waiting to transfer to a neighboring
island the next day. Pacific Wings a small-aircraft, interisland
carrier will provide another option.
The Maui-based airline is launching late-night service between
Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, in December, as well as between
Honolulu and Kona, Big Island. Direct flights will be scheduled
between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., as frequently as on the hour.
The airline offered the late-night service last year during the
winter holiday season but wasn’t equipped to handle the flights’
popularity. However, the airline has recently taken a big step
toward the majors.
In August, Pacific Wings became a member of Worldspan, the same
GDS reservations system used by Northwest Airlines. Pacific Wings
converted its outdated manual ticketing system which still
functioned with carbon copies, multiple triplicates and punch-hole
machines to a fully electronic system.
“It’s like overnight we took a quantum leap,” said Pacific Wings
president Greg Kahlstorf.
Coinciding with the launch of the late-night flights, Pacific
Wings is also launching service between Honolulu and Kapalua, West
Maui, with eight flights daily. (Only Island Air offers the route
Perhaps most appealing to travel agents is Pacific Wings’ 10
percent no-cap commission rate, far exceeding other airlines, and
Pacific Wings offers a 12 percent override on sales more than
$40,000. In addition, the airline joined ARC (Airline Reporting
Company), the private clearinghouse settlement system for ticket
purchases. And next month the company’s Web site will feature a
page dedicated to its travel agency programs.
Agents can now book from actual inventory, receive instant
confirmation, make seat assignments and automatically receive
notification of any schedule changes to reaccommodate
Agents will also be able
to e-ticket Pacific Wings through any major GDS including Sabre,
Axess or Galileo and Pacific Wings is negotiating with airlines for
reciprocal miles-awards programs.
Kahlstorf is also planning a trip to meet with agents.
“I’m trying to visit them personally,” he said. “Travel agents
add that value,” for the specialized destination tourist
While Pacific Wings may be catching up with other airlines’
technology, unlike other carriers, Pacific Wings selects routes for
their scenic value such as the passage over the 1,600-foot cliffs
of Kalaupapa. Whereas commercial airlines fly at 20,000 feet or
higher, Pacific Wings flies at about 10,000 feet or below. Every
window is gallery class, foot-long in width and height, to provide
In fact, the 30-year-old company, founded in 1974 in Las Vegas
as Air Nevada, has its roots in providing scenic air tours in the
Grand Canyon. Company owners relocated the airlines to Hawaii in
The airline’s fleet of six propeller-driven, twin-engine planes
(manufactured in 2003 or later) seat 14, but the airline limits
passengers to nine. The interiors of the planes have been upgraded
as part of the new promotions.
As for checking in, Pacific Wings allows passengers to bypass
the main terminals’ security lines. The airline requires just a
30-minute advance check-in at the commuter or interisland terminals
adjacent to the airports’ main terminals.
Although the company adheres to the same security guidelines,
“only nine people are going to be before you in line,” Kahlstorf
Even passengers who think they may not be able to stomach a
small cabin air flight, might be surprised how much they appreciate
the thrill and spectacle of flying closer to the ground and the
magnificent coastlines of Hawaii.
“Everybody brings a camera,” Kahlstorf said. “We are selling an
experience as well as transportation.”
Pacific Wings connects to nine airports: Honolulu on Oahu; Kona,
Hilo and Kamuela on the Big Island; Kahului, Hana and Kapalua on
Maui; Lanai City on Lanai; and Kalaupapa on Molokai.
Pacific Wings, primarily a commuter airline, operates 65-70
scheduled flights each day, with additional charter flights across
Hawaii, excluding Kauai. Prices start at $85, one-way.