American to drop Chicago-Honolulu service
American Airlines said yesterday that nonstop service to Honolulu from Chicago will be among the casualties of a plan the AMR Corp.
subsidiary announced last week to reduce its U.S. capacity.
Starting in September, American will operate its direct Chicago-Honolulu service, currently a daily flight, only on peak-demand days. On Jan. 5 the carrier will drop the flight altogether.
The decision comes at a time when Hawaii' airline capacity has been reduced by some 15 percent following the shutdown of Aloha Airlines and ATA Airlines. With fuel prices soaring and the economy softening, all carriers are reassessing the financial viability of their routes.
"It's a key source market for us, but we can't determine the impact that this announcement will have on us until we find out if American plans to add additional capacity on the West Coast," said Jay Talwar, vice president of marketing for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB).
According to preliminary 2007 numbers from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Hawaii had about 119,100 visitors from the Chicago area last year -- making that city the islands' ninth-largest Metropolitan Statistical Area market overall, and the state's second-largest MSA market from the eastern region of the nation, said Chris Kam, director of market trends for the HVCB.
If American adds additional West Coast service, travelers coming from Chicago will likely be able to find connecting service to Hawaii, Talwar said. Still, the change could have some impact on Hawaii's visitor numbers because travelers like convenience, he said.
"Time is an issue for the leisure traveler and for any fly-to destination," Talwar said. "The overall trend in leisure travel is for shorter, more frequent trips."