United expands services

LIHUE — This December, it won’t be a bird or Superman flying in the skies. Chances are, it’ll be one of United Airlines’ planes landing on runways throughout the state.

United Airlines announced 11 new routes connecting the continental United States and Hawaii, and will now have more flights to to and from the Mainland than any other carrier.

Beginning on Dec. 20, United will increase service from its hubs in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco to Hawaii. United will continue its daily nonstop service to Honolulu from all seven domestic hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., plus Guam and Tokyo, according to a press release.

United will increase its number of flights from San Francisco International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport to Lihue to two daily flights year-round. Denver International Airport will go from seasonal daily flights to Lihue to year-round daily flights.

“This combination of increased and enhanced service by United Airlines is fantastic news for Hawaii’s tourism industry, especially with the number of direct flights being added to Maui, Kauai and island of Hawaii,” said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “United’s customers anywhere in the nation will have easy access to all of Hawaii’s major islands and be able to experience our aloha spirit and diversity of culture and natural beauty statewide.”

The announcement comes on the company’s 70th anniversary in Hawaii, said Jake Cefolia, United’s vice president of sales, in a statement.

“Our customers have asked for more ways to get to Hawaii, and by adding these flights we are thrilled to make Hawaii more accessible than ever for our customers travelling from the Midwest, Rocky Mountain and West Coast regions,” he said.

With more flights to going to and coming from the Mainland, ticket prices are expected to fall.

Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson Alex Da Silva told TGI that United Airlines’ expanded service to Hawaii won’t affect the way Hawaiian conducts its business.

“We will keep providing competitive fares along with the best value for travelers who enjoy our superior service and product when traveling to our islands,” he said. “Our robust schedule of flights to, from and within the Hawaiian islands offers our guests a level of convenience and flexibility that cannot be matched by any competitor.”

Da Silva added that Hawaiian is still expanding its services to the Mainland, including non-stop daily service between Los Angeles and Kauai throughout the year, and adding more flights between the West Coast and Neighbor Islands early next year.

Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, said that while having more direct flights and visitors come to Kauai is a good thing, logistics will still have to be sorted out.

“It’s just a matter of managing the capacity at the airport, with people coming and going,” she said. “While it’s nice to have cheaper flights, managing everything that goes along with it will be important, too.”

Kanoho pointed out that visitors coming to Hawaii aren’t just worried about the cost of a plane ticket.

“It’s always a dance between cars, flights and rooms,” she said. “It has happened when we have sold out of rental cars. There’s a lot of things that we will have to juggle.”

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