Airlift boost from mainland 'a very good sign'

irlift to Oahu and the neighboring islands is increasing, with almost every major carrier adding flights and routes.

According to the Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau (HVCB), the number of air seats to Hawaii in March from the West Coast was at 98% of the capacity planned before Sept. 11. That figure is 99% for air seats originating from the East Coast.

The number of air seats from the mainland grew from 394,169 in October to 447,260 in March, the HVCB said.

New Hawaiian Airlines routes starting June 7 from Sacramento and Ontario, Calif., are just the kind of shot Hawaii needs, according to David Preece, vice president, North America, for the HVCB.

"All these flights are going to make a big difference, particularly when you have gateways that are not being served direct like Sacramento, which is one of our top 10 markets but which doesn't have any service to Hawaii," said Preece.

He noted the fact that several airlines are adding routes and flights shows that Hawaii's rebound is not just marketing hype.

"These announcements are a very good sign because the airlines are typically very conservative organizations, so I think it's an expression of confidence in the market," Preece said.

"They have these planes, and they are going to put them on routes where they know they can get a return."

Among the new routes and flights are:

• American Airlines on June 15 will start daily service from Los Angeles to Kauai, using a 757 aircraft.

• American Trans Air and Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays for the first time will offer nonstop flights to Kauai from San Francisco and Los Angeles June 1.

The airline and Hawaii's largest wholesaler will use a new fleet of six 757-300s to replace all but one of the aging L10-11's used in the past.

Pleasant will continue to offer flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Oahu and Maui. During the summer, there will be a total of 20 flights a week to Hawaii from both cities.

• Continental Airlines on Feb. 15 started a second daily flight from Houston to Honolulu. The eight-hour flight is on a 767-400 aircraft.

• Hawaiian Airlines on March 15 started a new daily flight from Seattle to Maui using a 767-300.

The airline also will start daily service on June 7 from Sacramento and Ontario, Calif., to Honolulu and daily Phoenix-Honolulu flights Oct. 11, all using 767-300 aircraft.

In addition, Hawaiian is starting a daily flight June 15 from San Francisco to Maui, also on a 767-300, and from June 15 to Sept. 2, it will offer a fourth daily flight from Los Angeles to Maui using a DC-10.

• United Airlines on June 7 will start a second daily flight from San Francisco to Kona on the Big Island using a

757 aircraft. On Feb. 2, the carrier started new Saturday and Sunday flights from Denver to Honolulu using a 777 aircraft.

• SunTrips on March 24 started air service from its new base in Oakland, Calif., to Kona.

In addition, from June through August, the wholesaler will increase all its Hawaii service from Oakland to two flights a week to Kona, two to Kauai, five to Maui and 10 to Honolulu.

• Aloha Airlines said it would start service from Burbank, Calif., to Honlulu June 1 aand from Vancouver to Honolulu June 15. On both routes, Aloha will use new 737-700 aircraft.

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