Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Lingle wants
more isle flights

She urges Aloha and Hawaiian
to look at their seating capacity

By Matt Sedensky
Associated Press

Gov. Linda Lingle called for additional interisland flights yesterday, saying she had witnessed firsthand the inconveniences of flying since the state's two airlines were granted an antitrust exemption allowing them to discuss flight capacity.

"They can add flights, and we think they need to do this," the governor said yesterday in her first public comments on scaled-back flight schedules at Aloha and Hawaiian airlines. "We're urging them to take another look at how they've divided up the capacity."

Lingle said the airlines had been cooperative, and officials at Aloha and Hawaiian said they have heeded the governor's message and have added flights as needed, especially during peak holiday flying times.

Lingle made specific mention of difficulties in securing seats aboard flights to and from Hilo.

Aloha spokesman Stu Glauberman said the airline has not cut back flights to Hilo and that additional flights had been added this month.

Hawaiian spokesman Keoni Wagner said 15 additional round trips on the Hilo route had been added this month, and plans were in place for an another six next week. Still, he noted, the number of flights offered is not as high as it once was.

"We continue to watch the supply-and-demand equation there and in all of our markets very, very carefully," Wagner said. "No matter how full we can get our flights, they're not profitable, but we're adding flights nonetheless."

Officials at both airlines said the difficulties on some routes stemmed in part from customers who do not show up for flights or double-book a single flight on both airlines, only showing up for one.

"We can't put extra seats in a market when there are still empty seats," said Glauberman.

Wagner echoed that message, saying, "On most days, we have flights leaving Hilo with open seats, and it's a result of this booking problem."

Lingle said her concerns about interisland travel stem from her "very first day of office when people were having difficulty getting flights down for the inauguration." The governor said her concerns increased when Cabinet nominees from neighbor islands found difficulty booking flights to Oahu for interviews.

The governor said she was also concerned about the economic effect of flight cutbacks. Lingle said a conversation with the head of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Rex Johnson, indicated that the major concern was a reduction in day-trip travelers who might fly to a neighbor island from Honolulu for just one day.

"We're concerned about the impact," Lingle said. "Not just the convenience of traveling, but the economic impact on business people going to and from the neighbor islands."

Aloha Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines

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