Alaska Air adds isle flights
Airline capacity between Hawaii and the mainland, which took a severe hit starting last month with the shutdowns of Aloha and ATA airlines, is making a comeback.
Alaska Airlines became the latest carrier to announce new service to the islands when it said yesterday it will inaugurate daily flights between Seattle and Kona beginning Nov. 17.
Alaska also said it is increasing its seasonal flights between Anchorage, Alaska, and Kahului to three times a week from twice weekly from Oct. 31, 2008, to April 25, 2009.
"Our new service between Seattle and Kona expands our coverage to all four major Hawaiian islands," said Andrew Harrison, managing director of planning for Alaska Air Group, parent company of Alaska Air.
Harrison said the new routes "are part of a broader effort to trim capacity from underperforming markets and redeploy it in places where customer demand is high."
To initiate its Seattle-Kona service, Alaska is offering introductory one-way fares of $229 between the two cities.
Last month, Alaska also announced it was beginning service between Seattle and Kahului starting on July 17.
"They are now servicing all of our airports and islands with service from Seattle," said state Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert. "We're thrilled they've made the commitment to our destination."
Wienert said the state lost 863,175 airline seats from April through year-end after Aloha and ATA airlines shut down. Of that amount, 604,539 were attributable to ATA and 258,636 to Aloha. The shutdowns of Aloha and ATA represented a loss of 15 percent of the market's seats on an annual basis.
But Wienert said state officials have concluded they need to make up only ATA's share, because other carriers on mainland-Hawaii routes had capacity available to carry more passengers on their existing flights. Also, the departure of two NCL America cruise ships freed up 4,000 weekly air seats that had been planned for passengers flying in for cruises.
So as far as the loss of Aloha's seats, "it's basically a wash," Wienert said. "We're just dealing with the ATA loss."
And even that is beginning to look more promising since additional lift from Alaska, as well as extra capacity being provided by Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines, will bring into the market roughly 185,000 seats from May through December, Wienert said.
On May 1, Hawaiian began daily flights between Honolulu and Oakland, filling a void left by both Aloha and ATA.
Earlier this year, Delta said it would begin service from Los Angeles to both Lihue and Kona starting in June.