Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Hawaiian Airlines
goes fishing
in San Diego

The carrier launches its
new mainland service Friday
with a $700,000 campaign

By Russ Lynch

Billboards and newspaper advertisements in San Diego this week are showing an unfamiliar creature, the humuhumunukunukuapua'a, Hawaii's cute yellow triggerfish, as the "Hawaiian spokesfish." Our finny friend's message: If you want to go to Hawaii there's no better way than aboard Hawaiian Airlines.

Hawaiian Air The piscatorial promotion is part of a $700,000 push by Hawaiian to introduce its latest mainland-Hawaii service, between San Diego and Honolulu.

The daily service, using McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 aircraft with about 300 seats, begins Friday with a flight leaving San Diego's international airport, Lindbergh Field, at 9:10 a.m., after sendoff ceremonies headed by Gov. Ben Cayetano and Paul J. Casey, the airline's vice chairman and chief executive officer.

Hawaiian Airlines officials are already in Southern California working on a series of promotions leading up to the inaugural flight and the outlook is good for improving mainland-Hawaii tourism, the airline says.

The launch comes at a peak of competition in Internet airline booking promotions, which makes it hard to figure the best fare., the Web site owned by five major U.S. Airlines and just a little over a week old, yesterday did not even show Hawaiian's new nonstop for a mid-July flight originating in Honolulu. It does have a listing for the flight starting in San Diego, at $841 for the round trip.

Checking the same dates -- a July 10 departure and a July 24 return, to get the best advance-booking fare -- on Hawaiian's own Web site shows a round trip for the nonstop flight of $673 originating in San Diego and $793 originating in Honolulu.

The cheapest Honolulu-San Diego round trip shown on the Web sites Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, Cheap Tickets and Hawaiian Air yesterday for those dates was $471 on Continental Airlines, but that requires a stop and a plane change in Los Angeles.

International Travel Service in Honolulu said it could provide a $521 nonstop Hawaiian Airlines round trip close to, but not specifically on, the July dates and as low as $425 after the summer rush.

Coupon holders might be able to do nearly as well as that now, International Travel said.

Hawaiian has always said its fares will be competitive.

Casey said the explanation for so many high fares is simple: it's all about demand.

"The load factors on the San Diego route exceed the load factors on any other route in our system. It's unbelievably strong," Casey said in a telephone interview from San Diego. "All the inexpensive fares are taken."

Casey said bookings are strong all through the summer and he does not expect many low-price seats to be available until the fall.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian's main aim is to drum up business for the service in both directions and the airline said its promotions in San Diego can only help Hawaii's lagging tourist industry.

To that aim, John Happ, the airline's senior vice president of marketing and sales, and Keoni Wagner, senior director of corporate communications, were to host a luncheon today for San Diego-based news media, business executives and travel writers.

Tonight, Casey and other Hawaiian Airlines executives are scheduled to host a reception for some 300 San Diego-based travel agencies. The agents will be invited to a special screening of the Imax movie "Hidden Hawaii."

Tomorrow evening there is a reception hosted by Hawaiian and the airport operator, the San Diego Unified Port District, for 150 business leaders.

Gov. Cayetano and San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy are expected to be among the guests.

On Friday morning at Lindbergh Field's Gate 22, there will be a traditional Hawaiian blessing, hula and chants.

Passengers boarding the inaugural flight will each get a fresh flower lei, the airline said. Next week, baskets of made-in-Hawaii goods, a CD by Hawaiian performer Teresa Bright and Hawaii guide books will be delivered to top executives of San Diego businesses.

"The purpose of all the San Diego events is as much to promote travel to Hawaii as it is to promote Hawaiian Airlines," said a spokesman for Hawaiian, Stu Glauberman.

Hawaiian Airlines started its West Coast-Hawaii services in 1985 and now flies to Honolulu from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, and Portland, Ore.

Interisland competitor Aloha Airlines started its first mainland service with an Oakland-Honolulu flight in February of last year

It now also flies between Orange County and Hawaii and has some direct neighbor island-mainland services and Las Vegas flights from its West Coast gateways.

Aloha also has been conducting significant Hawaii promotions on the mainland.

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