Alaska Airlines considering flights to Hawaii
Hawaii's airline market, already crowded with interisland and mainland carriers, could get another competitor as early as next year.
An Alaska Airlines spokeswoman confirmed yesterday the carrier is eyeing Hawaii and Central America for possible expansion.
The Seattle-based airline completed Extended Over-Water training earlier this month that paves the way for it to fly more than 50 nautical miles from a shoreline. Alaska also needs Extended Twin-Engine Operations certification that would allow it to fly up to three hours away from an adequate airport. That could happen as early as February, according to Alaska spokeswoman Amanda Tobin Bielawski.
Additional training for flight crews is planned for the fall, she said.
Tobin Bielawski said Alaska doesn't have any immediate plans to announce service to Hawaii or Central America.
"We constantly look at new route opportunities in a wide range of new markets, and at this time we don't have any new routes to announce," she said. "But we do continue to look at the possibility of routes throughout the areas where Alaska Airlines can technically fly."
She said the Extended Over-Water approval will allow Alaska Airlines to fly more direct routes to Cancun, Mexico, which it currently serves.
"That will allow us to save both time and fuel," she said.
Alaska Airlines, which has a code-share agreement with Hawaiian Airlines, passed the test for Extended Over-Water approval on Aug. 10, when two flight crews successfully completed a partial-ditching drill that simulated an emergency landing of a 737-800 jet in the Pacific Ocean. The 737-800 normally seats 160 passengers, but there were 25 employees on hand as volunteer passengers for the demonstration.