HONOLULU — Hawaiian Airlines will begin daily nonstop service between Lihue and Kailua-Kona in March.
The airline said Thursday this is the first time it will connect the two cities with a direct flight.
“Traveling between Lihue and Kona has always required a stop in Honolulu. A direct flight will cut down on travel time and cost for kamaaina and visitors alike,” said Mark Perriello, president of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce.
“For visitors to our state, a direct flight from Lihue to Kona may increase the likelihood that Kauai and Big Island will become more popular options for travelers looking to visit multiple islands during their stay,” he added.
The 263-mile flight from Lihue Airport to Kona International Airport becomes Hawaiian’s longest neighbor island route, besting its flights between Hilo and Honolulu International Airport on Oahu by nearly 60 miles.
“Demand from our kamaaina and visitors for travel between Hawaii Island and Kauai has been growing steadily over the past few years,” said Peter Ingram, chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines.
Kirstin Kahaloa, president of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, said Kauai and Hawaii have always had a special relationship.
“Anything that makes it easier for our local families to get back and forth and also makes it more convenient for visitors to see more of Hawaii is a positive development,” she said.
“We’re happy to see that Hawaiian Airlines shares our optimism for the continued growth of the visitor industry, that creates jobs for local families and signifies our growing economy,” Kahaloa added.
Hawaiian first launched flights to Kona from Honolulu on July 10, 1949, and started service from Honolulu to Lihue six months later on Jan. 8, 1950. Today, the carrier operates an average of 21 daily departures from each airport with its Boeing 717 fleet.
During the summer, Hawaiian offers direct flights from both Kona and Lihue to Los Angeles and from Lihue to Oakland. In December 2016, Hawaiian started its first-ever international service from Kona with thrice-weekly flights to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
Tickets between Lihue and Kona, starting as low as $89 one way including taxes and fees, are available at HawaiianAirlines.com.