Hawaiian is betting on a big boost in domestic tourism starting in early 2021. From next spring the carrier will add three new mainland destinations, including its first routes to Texas and Florida.
2021 is going to be a special time to experience Hawai‘i, and we can’t wait to welcome onboard guests from our newest cities.– Peter Ingram, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines
Orlando, Florida will become the carrier’s third east coast destination as of March 11, with twice weekly flights from Honolulu operated by the A330. Six weeks later the carrier will add service to Austin, Texas, also served twice weekly from Honolulu on the A330.
Ontario, California is the third new city joining the route map, with service on an A321neo five days a week starting on 16 March.
The carrier will also add an additional flight from Long Beach, California to Maui with a daily flight starting on 9 March.
Austin and Orlando are two of the largest markets for Hawaii without non-stop service today. Whether it is enough to make the flights profitable, however, remains to be seen. But they present an option for rebuilding some traffic into Hawaii that the carrier desperately needs with international demand drying up and uncertainty about when and where that will be an option again.
For all four new routes the aircraft will remain on the mainland for a half day or more. That allows for the crew to get sufficient rest and return to the islands with the aircraft, though it also means inefficient fleet utilization. The Orlando flight will have the aircraft on the ground for 25 hours; add in the fly time and it is nearly 45 hours of aircraft utilization for each trip to Florida. It also means that, other than the Orlando route, none of the eastbound flights are redeye flights.
Even the Austin route is a daytime trip eastbound. A 10a departure from Honolulu is late enough to capture the first bank of connections from the other islands, arriving in Texas just after 10pm. West-bound the flight leaves at 10:10am, arriving in Honolulu at 1:30pm in time for onward connections to other islands and still arriving at the final destination before sunset in paradise.
This initial schedule gives the carrier an opportunity to feel out demand and also to see if the pandemic situation on the mainland stabilizes or even improves in the coming months. It makes sense from a health perspective to bring the crew back to the islands sooner, even if that means the plane sits longer, rather than increasing the health risk in Orlando, for example. And there’s always the option for some light maintenance at one of the many MRO facilities there.
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