HONOLULU — Hawaiian Airlines will expand its schedule of flights between Hawaii and the West Coast early next year.
The arrival of its A321neo fleet will add three new daily routes between Oakland-Kauai, Portland-Maui and Los Angeles-Kona. Direct flights between Los Angeles and Lihue will resume year-round, and new daily non-stop service between Oakland and Lihue will begin in April.
Hawaiian Airlines’ inaugural A321neo flight between the West Coast and Hawaii is planned for Jan. 8 on its existing Oakland-Maui service. Additional routes will be announced as it introduces 18 new A321neo aircraft over the next three years.
Some local business owners are excited to hear the news.
“It’s fantastic for us and means we’ll be busier than ever,” said Ellen Coulombe, co-owner of Wings Over Kauai, which is based near Lihue Airport and offers aerial sightseeing tours. “We have two planes that are full in summer, so daily year-round flights should increase our winter business.”
While the increased non-stop flights will directly affect the local economy, other residents worry about negative effects from the added influx of tourists.
“The business part is good for us, but it will certainly impact traffic,” said Vernon Pacheco, return agent for Dollar/Thrifty car rentals. “It’s a plus-and-minus thing — more business for rental cars, but more cars on the road.”
Hawaiian Airlines was ranked No. 1 nationally for on-time performance in April and May 2017 by the U.S. Department of Transportation Air Travel Consumer Report. On Tuesday, the company reported positive financial results for the second quarter of 2017. As of June 30, the company had cash equivalents and short-term investments totaling $844 million, while its debt and capital leases totaled $528 million.
“Our string of outstanding results continued into the second quarter,” said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO. “These results have come courtesy of strong demand for the Hawaii vacation, low fuel prices, moderate industry capacity, and an excellent job done … to strengthen our performance.”
Each A321neo aircraft includes 189 seats, including 16 leather recliners in the premium cabin.
“The introduction of A321neo service to the Western U.S. heralds the dawn of a new era for Hawaiian Airlines and its guests,” said Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Hawaiian Airlines. “The A321neo offers an unrivaled combination of comfort and efficiency. … We look forward to announcing additional routes in the months and years ahead.”
Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, said last week that the more flights to the islands, the better. As long as it makes sense logistically.
“There’s a lot of things that we will have to juggle,” she said.