awaii's mainland market is working its
way back to better health. One positive sign is United Airlines'
plan to reinstate in February two daily flights from San Francisco
and Los Angeles that it cut Oct. 31. The carrier also will add two
weekend flights from Denver to Honolulu.
Another sign is improving arrival numbers from the mainland.
Honolulu travel agent Linda Schewe of Schewe Travel Associates
said the reinstated United flights are indeed a sign of sunnier
A day before United announced the return of the flights, Schewe
said, "I think if the airlines added a couple of more flights, they
would fill up right away."
Schewe said the Oct. 31 United cut left the market on air seats
very tight, especially during Christmas and New Year's.
"There are some holiday dates where there are zero coach seats
available on any airline in the whole market," said Schewe.
"Roundtrip prices for the holidays are around $800 to $900
depending on where you're coming from, and people don't want to pay
that. All the cheap fares that came out after Sept. 11 are
Domestic visitor numbers to Hawaii were down about 20% in
October compared with the same month last year, but down only about
10% in November, according to the state Department of Business
Economic Development and Tourism.
Add that to the fact that United -- Hawaii's largest carrier --
has raised the number of seats to Hawaii slightly more than its
pre-Sept. 11 levels and you have at least the building blocks of a
"Does this point to a turnaround? I sincerely hope so," said
Outrigger Hotels chief executive officer David Carey.
"Anecdotally, I continue to hear that planes are full, but if
you look at the hotel numbers around here, it doesn't show. Maybe
the advance bookings on the airlines haven't washed through to the
hotels yet, but I hope they do.
"By February, I think it will be better, unless we have another
[terrorist] event," Carey said.
"The United flights are a good sign, and we have been really
fortunate that we have maintained most of our lift throughout this
With the February flights added to the market, United will have
19 daily flights in
addition to the new weekend flights from Denver.
United managing director in Hawaii, Tom Renville, said the fact
that the airline is reinstating the flights is important because
every move the airline makes right now is made with the utmost
priority of filling seats.
"Because Hawaii is so heavily dependent on leisure travel. it
has historically been very difficult to make any sort of profit in
the market," said Renville. "The people at United who schedule
these flights look at these things very carefully. So, if they are
adding these flights, that is significant."
What's more, Renville said, Hawaii is lucky to have the demand
at this time.
"Growth in any location in today's environment is a strong
statement, so these new flights show that United is committed to
and has confidence in the Hawaii market," he said.
Renville said with newer, more efficient aircraft in the air,
the decision to reinstate the flights cut after Sept. 11 was made
The Saturday and Sunday flights from Denver to Honolulu start
Feb. 2 on 777 aircraft.
Part of the decision to add the flight from Denver was fueled by
demand from customers of Norwegian Cruise Line's new weekly
Hawaiian island cruises that start Dec. 16, said Renville.
The San Francisco and Los Angeles flights will begin again Feb.
The San Francisco flight will use 757 aircraft, and the Los
Angeles flight will use 767 aircraft.