Travelers looking to visit Hawaii this summer will have plenty of flight options. Airlines expect high demand to the islands and everyone wants to cash in. More than 1100 weekly flights from the mainland are slated to operate in June 2021.
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.
Facing a continued downturn in demand Hawaiian Airlines announced plans to suspend its interisland flights operated under the ‘Ohana brand. The carrier must receive approval from the Department of Transportation for that move, however, and an adverse ruling could create a significant operational challenge.
As the largest carrier between the mainland and Hawaii United Airlines has a lot to gain by increasing passenger numbers to the islands. Quarantine restrictions limited the viability for most visitors over the summer but a new policy allowing passengers with a negative COVID test to skip the quarantine could help boost traffic. United will soon offer testing at San Francisco International Airport to help meet that requirement.
Airline route networks must adapt to shifting demand and long-haul operations are no exception. United Airlines is the latest player to make a move on that front, announcing seven routes today with service slated to launch between December and Summer 2021. The carrier will be reopening some destinations, expanding others and inaugurating a couple of markets never before served.
Japanese long-haul low cost carrier startup ZIPAIR sees challenges on the horizon, but it continues to push forward with its plans to launch service this year, including between its Tokyo hub and Honolulu later this Fall.
Flights to Hawaii will remain limited for the foreseeable future. The DOT will allow reductions between the mainland and the islands as it pays out billions to help keep airlines flying.
With tens of billions of dollars in federal funding on the line the DOT’s rules about service obligations under the CARES Act could dramatically affect airlines’ cash flow in the coming months. The divide in views between the large and small players is impressively wide.
With loads teetering against the single digits the US carriers must cut deeper to rationalize their operations. And there are few good justifications for not making that move.
Hawaiian and JAL had grand plans to coordinate their operations between Asia and Hawaii. The US DoT has other ideas. The ATI application was denied this week, citing insufficient benefit to passengers.