Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-Letter: March 25, 2002

ALOHA AND HAWAIIAN AIRLINES will have to find ways to survive and thrive on their own, after the carriers' merger plan collapsed last week. Aloha said it "has its own business plan to move forward on a stand-alone basis" but did not immediately provide details. Hawaiian, which previously told investors "alternatives to merger are not attractive," did not describe what its alternatives are now. Both airlines had portrayed the merger as something they needed in order to make money. But opponents -- including ASTA and its Hawaii chapter -- argued a merger would lead to higher fares and reduced service on interisland flights.

THE DECISION to call off the deal came after the airlines could not agree to extend their merger agreement beyond April 18. The airlines said the deadline could not be met because it did not allow the time needed to obtain the necessary regulatory approvals. Aloha pinned the blame on Hawaiian, which it said wanted to make significant changes to the agreement, including cutting the private company TurnWorks out of the deal entirely. That's the company owned by Greg Brenneman, former president and COO of Continental, who would have become the chairman and CEO of post-merger Aloha Holdings. Aloha said Hawaiian wanted its chairman, John Adams, to be named president and CEO of the merged company, with Aloha naming a nonexecutive chairman.

"WE'RE QUITE HAPPY," said Danny Casey, ASTA chapter president for Hawaii and an agent with Quality Travel, Honolulu. "In the long run, consumers in Hawaii are better off in a competitive marketplace." The Hawaii ASTA chapter, with 110 agents representing 60 agencies, had asked its members to contact city, state and federal officials to oppose the merger, calling it "anticompetitive and harmful to consumers." In addition, a group calling itself Citizens for Competitive Air Travel presented a petition to Gov. Ben Cayetano with 20,000 signatures opposing the merger.

PLEASANT HOLIDAYS redesigned its agents-only Web site at New features include destination overviews; details on Pleasant's hotel and resort partners; on-line brochures and sales flyers, downloadable in PDF format; information on the operator's travel protection plans; and an expanded group/incentive travel section. Agents also can check existing bookings, make payments or hold space for clients.

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES is adding daily nonstop service between Sacramento and Ontario, Calif., and Honolulu. The flights, to be operated on 767-300ERs, are scheduled to launch June 7.

ADDITIONAL West Coast service being launched by the airline includes daily nonstop Seattle-Maui service. On June 15, daily Los Angeles-Maui service will resume while San Francisco-Maui daily service will be initiated. Additionally, a fourth daily Los Angeles-Honolulu flight will be added that date as well.

PASSENGER TRAFFIC into Hawaii in the opening weeks of March continued at a healthy pace on the coattails of a strong February, in which total passenger arrivals for the month were at 95% of the previous year's levels. The average number of passengers arriving in Hawaii daily during the seven-day period ending March 12 climbed to 97% of the same period in 2001. Meanwhile, domestic air service is nearing pre-Sept. 11 planned levels, with nonstop seats from the U.S. Mainland climbing from 89% of planned capacity in October to 98.4% in March.

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