Aloha drops interisland
Aloha Airlines is boosting the seating capacity aboard its interisland aircraft.
The privately held carrier, acknowledging that there's little demand for first-class seats on 30-minute flights, is reconfiguring its planes to allow 8 percent more seats.
Aloha is removing all 12 first-class seats in its 10 Boeing 737-200 planes and replacing them with 21 coach seats. The conversion program already has begun and is expected to be completed by mid-July.
Aloha's interisland service was all coach until 1983 when the company inaugurated first-class service to accommodate first-class flyers on trans-Pacific routes who changed planes in Honolulu and wanted the same class of service on connecting interisland flights.
"(But) times have changed," said Glenn Zander, president and chief executive officer of Aloha. "Demand for first-class service on interisland flights has diminished as more and more trans-Pacific carriers, including Aloha, now fly nonstops direct to the neighbor islands. Today, virtually no one in Hawaii wants to pay a premium for a first-class seat on a 30-minute interisland flight."
Effective immediately, Aloha will stop accepting bookings for first-class interisland seats for travel after June 30. Passengers who have paid for first-class interisland seats on flights after June 30 will be entitled to refunds.
Aloha had been charging first-class interisland fares of $109 for AlohaPass frequent flier program members and $140 for others. The airline's AlohaPass coach fares start at $69 while its regular published fares start at $123.
Aloha will continue to offer first-class service on its 11 Boeing 737-700 aircraft used for trans-Pacific and West Coast flights.
"We've heard from the people of our state who travel the most interisland," Zander said. "They are telling us they want more seats during certain times of the day and on certain days of the week."
Aloha also announced its traditional summer increase of interisland flights. Beginning June 10, Aloha will boost its weekly service 28 percent to Kahului, Lihue, Hilo and Kona. The airline's interisland flights will increase to 814 from 638.
Hawaiian Airlines, whose interisland planes seat eight in first class, had no immediate comment.