Hawaii takes cautious approach in wake of UA Ch. 11


HONOLULU -- It's unlikely Hawaii will see any immediate changes from United's bankruptcy filing, but the visitor industry will watch closely for possible reductions to flights to the islands.

"It's very difficult to know at this point what, if any, impact it's going to have on Hawaii," said David Preece, vice president for North America at the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau.

"The only consolation that we have is that in the aftermath of 9/11, [United] worked very hard to maintain its routes to Hawaii because the relative yield was strong compared with other routes."

Preece said the visitor industry hopes that if significant changes do occur, United will decide the Hawaii routes are worth keeping.

If not, "hopefully other carriers serving Hawaii would be able to pick up the slack," said Murray Towill, president of the Hawaii Hotel Association.

"We're all going to keep an eye out," he said.

United is Hawaii's largest U.S. carrier. Because it controls about 20% of the market, any cuts could have a devastating effect on the state's $10 billion tourism industry.

Whether United will move ahead with its scheduled increase in nonstop flights between Denver and Honolulu is not clear.

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