Flying to Hawaii: What's Next?

Now that the mainland’s East Coast is linked to Hawaii by more direct flights than ever (Hawaiian flies nonstop from New York, while United flies from both Newark and Washington, D.C.), we wondered what the future of airlift to the islands would be.

We reached out to David Uchiyama of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, who predicted more flights from Allegiant and Alaskan Airlines from the mainland. In addition, he believes that larger jets will step up international flights to Hawaii as well: Asiana will be flying out of Korea, while Hawaiian has already announced nonstop Honolulu-Brisbane flights. “We’ve been pushing for more from Southeast Asia, like Hong Kong or Singapore,” he told Travel Agent. “I don’t know if we’ll get it by year’s end, but maybe by 2013. China will develop further, maybe with China Eastern or another carrier from Beijing or another part of the country.” Japan, meanwhile, is seeing an increase in charter flights to Hawaii—which the Hawaii Tourism Authority is working to balance with regularly scheduled flights. “We’ve worked hard to get additional airlift and ease of access with direct service.”

Future development can be almost taken for granted, given that both Hawaiian’s New York flights and United’s D.C. flights are selling well for the rest of the peak season. “We’ve seen an increase throughout the year,” Uchiyama said. “There have been pretty decent increases in all markets so far.”

But the HTA—and the overall tourism scene to Hawaii—cannot rest on laurels, he added. “We have to keep vigilant in terms of other circumstances, like the economy in Europe, which can impact Asia’s economy”—thereby affecting the travel plans of people throughout the country, he explained. Also, while the cost of fuel can make flying prohibitively expensive, Uchiyama believes that it should remain consistent through the end of the year.

Europe, Uchiyama added, is not Hawaii’s biggest market, but noted that the increase in direct access from the East Coast might bring more Europeans to the state. And as more long-haul planes take to the skies, he added, some carriers may be able to start offering nonstop flights from the continent directly to Hawaii.