Travel Weekly's Hawaii E-letter: Dec. 15, 2003

ISLAND AIR will become Hawaii's third independent airline -- in addition to Aloha and Hawaiian -- as Aloha Airgroup, parent company of Aloha Airlines, agreed to sell all of the stock of its Island Air unit to family owned Gavarnie Holding. Details were not disclosed. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals and is slated to close by March 1, will allow Island Air to expand beyond its 46 daily flights to Molokai, Lanai, and Kapalua and Kahului airports on Maui. Over the next few months, Island Air plans to add five aircraft to its fleet as well as six more routes, including service to the Big Island. The carrier will continue to code share with Aloha, said Neil Takekawa, president of Island Air. To date, the airline has no plans to expand beyond Hawaii.

AMERICAN AIRLINES added a third nonstop flight between Chicago (O'Hare) and Hawaii three times a week. The flight will operate daily beginning today through Jan. 5, and five times per week Jan. 6 to 30. On Jan. 31, flights will run daily.

THE WAIKOLOA BEACH MARRIOTT on the Big Island is offering one free whale-watching cruise per guest room with every stay of five nights or more through April 15. For those not covered in the program, the cost is $59 for adults and $39 for children. Be sure to visit the new Humpback Whale Center, which opened at the hotel on Dec. 6. For information on the hotel, log onto www.WaikoloaBeachMarriott.com.

RATES & DATES
• Panda Travel in Hawaii has official fan packages for the NFL Pro Bowl. Vacations include roundtrip air, hotel accommodations, rental car and tickets to the Feb. 8 game. Agents can spice up the experience for clients with admission to the tailgate party, a VIP goodie bag, NFL logo items and a chance to meet the players at the VIP party. Packages start at $868.50 per person, double, for four nights from Los Angeles. All levels can be customized with hotel and car upgrades and longer stays. To book, call (888) PANDA-88 or visit www.pandaonline.com.
• Fantasy Holidays and the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel are offering agents a $25 booking bonus for reservations made by Jan. 15. The bonus is valid on a three-night minimum stay. For details or to book, call (800) 645-2555.
• Kona Village Resort on the Big Island has honeymoon and romance packages that include breakfast, lunch buffet and a full-course dinner at the resort's oceanfront dining room. A Thursday evening reception is reserved for honeymooners only. And each Friday evening, guests can enjoy the resort's luau dinner and Polynesian show. Rates also include scheduled daily activities such as petroglyph tours, Hawaiian cultural classes and use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment, as well as a lauhala gift basket. Packages for 2004 start at $1,545 for three nights in a thatched hale, or hut. For information, call (800) 367-5290 or visit www.konavillage.com.

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