Hawaiian to cease Ala Moana ticket sales
The growth of Internet airline ticket sales is causing the demise of downtown or mall ticket counters, where customers could deal face to face with the airline.
Hawaiian Airlines is the latest company to close its last city sales counter as Web sites attract more passengers. Over-the-counter service still will be available inside airports.
The airline announced it will close its ticket operation at Sears in Ala Moana Center on Jan. 27.
Rival Aloha Airlines' nearby counter will remain open, a spokesman said.
"It's just changing times," said Keoni Wagner, a spokesman for Hawaiian. "More and more people want the 24-hour convenience and comprehensive service available on the Web."
Customers across the country are turning to the Internet when they decide to book a flight, said Michael Cannizzaro, director of information services for Connecticut-based PhoCusWright Inc., a travel research company.
PhoCusWright estimates that online bookings approached 30 percent of the U.S. travel market in 2005 for a value of $65.4 billion. That percentage does not include business travel or telephone sales that originated from a Web site.
There is little need for paper tickets anymore when customers can find cheaper fares on either the airlines' Web sites or on third-party sites like Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz, said Expedia spokeswoman Katie Deines.
"The benefit of booking on Expedia is that you can book your entire trip -- your flight, your hotel, your car rental -- and you can save money," Deines said.
Hawaiian Airlines once had as many as five non-airport ticket counters in Hawaii, but they have been shut down during the past few years, Wagner said.
Aloha Airlines, which once had five ticket counters around the islands, closed two of its Honolulu sites in 2004, leaving only the one at Ala Moana Center, said spokesman Stu Glauberman.
"The industry trend has been to book online, go to the airport or use your travel agent," he said.
Airlines nationwide are mirroring the move toward fewer traditional ticket counters, Cannizzaro said.
"They're cutting back because the demand for them is going down because the airlines are being successful in getting people to book online," he said.
Neither Hawaiian nor Aloha airline would discuss how much of their business comes from Web sites.
By 2007, online leisure travel will account for nearly 40 percent of the total travel market, according to PhoCusWright.