While its long-haul developments have been making industry headlines in recent weeks, Hawaiian Airlines is also taking steps to improve short-haul service. This week, the airline implemented a new fare structure for neighbor island travel that lowers ticket prices across all of its fare classes from 4 to 25 percent.
Under the new fare structure, the lowest fare for a one-way nonstop inter-island flight (including taxes and mandatory federal fees) is $65 for travel from Honolulu to Kahului and Lïhu‘e.
The new structure’s three lowest fares from Honolulu to Kahului, Lïhu‘e, Hilo and Kona are all lower than the previously published lowest web fare, and are available to book immediately.
In addition, the airline’s parent company, Hawaiian Holdings, has signed a Letter of Intent to acquire turbo-prop aircraft with the aim of establishing a subsidiary carrier to serve routes not currently in Hawaiian’s neighbor island system.
Ann Botticelli of Hawaiian Airlines told Travel Agent that the company had increased their inter-island capacity by about 13 percent this year. They also took ownership of three new 717 aircraft, and established a Maui hub to allow more connections for the mainland’s west coast and also to connect from Maui directly to other islands, such as Kauai and Hawaii Island without going through Honolulu. “As part of that expansion, we tested some guaranteed lowest fares, and the tests indicated to us that we should make them a permanent part of our structure [and] shorten the gaps between the different fare class offerings,” she says. “We think that the average price of our ticket will probably remain the same or go down a little bit, but we do believe our load factor will go up, and that's what motivated [the decision]. We think that we can fill some of the planes in the less popular times with this new fare structure.”
Tamara Aalto, product manager at local tour operator All About Hawaii, said that travel to neighbor islands on a through-fare is a big benefit for travelers who want to see more of the state. “We encourage neighbor island and multi-island vacations whenever possible,” she added, “and the increased service will make it easier for clients.”
Bruce Fisher, owner of Hawaii Aloha Travel, noted that peak travel times will probably still be the most expensive, and taking less-popular flights could prove cumbersome: “If you leave at 5 a.m. to go to another island, you have to wait a long time to check into your hotel when you arrive,” he pointed out. To that, Aalto suggested that that agents book their clients a same-day tour prior to checking into their hotel. “We also see itineraries traveling to neighbor islands just for a day of sightseeing,” she added, noting that early flights are preferred for these kinds of day trips.
Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Tourism Authority and Kirk Lee Aeder