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Airlines Report Domestic Flights to Hawai‘i Bouncing Back, Additional Routes

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Airline travel to and from Hawai‘i has seen major changes due to coronavirus restrictions and changing consumer behavior, reports Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier.

As tourism comes back to islands, airlines have been adjusting routes and capacity due to the fact that it isn’t coming from the same places.

International travel is still largely missing, and while arrivals from the U.S. Mainland are bouncing back swiftly, travelers are coming from different cities.

Hawaiian Airlines has added new routes connecting Honolulu with Austin, Texas; Ontario, Calif.; and Orlando, Fla. They've also added more flights between Maui and Long Beach and Phoenix.

Jon Snook, executive vice president and chief operating officer says domestic travel has had a “remarkable rebound.”

The airline is actually flying with more capacity to North America than in 2019, redeploying aircraft from idle international routes. The new domestic routes are entirely nonstop because now people want to spend as little time as possible in airports.

Southwest Airlines was the first major U.S. airline to report a profit coming out of the pandemic.

Andrew Watterson, Southwest's executive vice president and chief commercial officer, says it’s controlling costs and rerouting about 100 of its 700 aircraft, including flights to 18 cities that are new for the airline.

He calls it a decade’s worth of growth in destinations in one year—top Hawai‘i connections include Phoenix to Maui and Oakland to Kona.

Alaska Airlines vice president Brett Catlin reports Hawai‘i routes have been among the fastest to recover for the airline, lending stability in a tumultuous year.

Among the challenges: while leisure travel is ahead of 2019 levels, business travel is still just 30% to 40% of normal.

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