Southwest Expansion, Island Air Bankruptcy Protection Top Latest Hawaii Flight News

Island Air
Photo courtesy of Island Air

It's been a busy start to the fall in the Hawaiian skies as Southwest Airlines recently announced an expansion to the Aloha State, while the destination's inter-island carrier filed for bankruptcy.

Travel Agent breaks down these stories, as well a new code share agreement between Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines.

Southwest Airlines to Sell Tickets to Hawaii in 2018

Southwest Airlines has announced plans to begin selling tickets in 2018 for service to Hawaii.

The carrier also announced its intention to launch an application process for Federal Aviation Administration authorization for Extended Operations (ETOPS). Service details are expected to be announced at a later date, according to a statement issued by the airline.

At the beginning of this month, Southwest became the first airline in North America to launch scheduled service utilizing Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft across its existing network.

The carrier announced it will embark on a process to obtain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for Extended Operations (ETOPS), a regulatory requirement to operate between the mainland and the Hawaiian islands.

Visit www.southwest.com

Island Air Files for Bankruptcy Protection; No Disruptions in Service Expected

Island Air, an inter-island carrier in Hawaii, recently issued a statement announcing it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection “in an effort to continue normal operations while navigating through legal challenges recently presented by the lessors of its aircraft.”

The bankruptcy filing was caused by threats of legal action to ground the aircraft and strand hundreds of passengers, according to the statement. The filing prevents the threatened action and allows Island Air to continue inter-island service for its customers.

During the reorganization process, Island Air expects to fly its scheduled routes as normal and honor all previously purchased tickets and confirmed reservations. 

In addition, there will be no changes to the Island Miles frequent flyer and other customer service programs, including Kupuna & Keiki Saver Fare, Island Biz corporate travel program, and military and group travel programs.

“On October 12, while in the process of negotiating its aircraft leases with its lessors, Island Air was very surprised that the lessors served them with notices of termination of the leases and demands to surrender its airplanes,” according to the statement. 

Island Air narrowed its 2017 first quarter loss while revenue continued to rise, making this the airline’s highest quarterly revenue since before 2013 when Island Air was required to begin reporting its financial data to the DOT due to the size of its aircraft, according to the statement.  

In the second quarter of 2017, the airline earned $12.5 million in revenues, its highest quarterly revenue in more than a decade. In the first quarter of 2017, Island Air flew 172,200 passengers (more than double the previous quarter’s figure of 75,102). 

“Island Air will continue to hold our customers and employees, as well as our invaluable vendors, as our main priorities during this reorganization process,” said David Uchiyama, Island Air president and CEO. “Once we have completed the reorganization process, Island Air expects to emerge as a stronger airline with a solid financial structure that will allow us to continue to meet the demands of Hawai‘i’s dynamic interisland market, while positioning us for future growth and expansion.”

In January 2016, Hawaii-based investment company PacifiCap acquired controlling interest in Island Air from Ohana Airline Holdings, which is wholly owned by Oracle corporation founder Larry Ellison.

Visit www.islandair.com

Hawaiian Airlines, Japan Airlines Announce New Code Share Agreement

Two popular airlines between Hawaii and Japan have signed a comprehensive new partnership agreement that will aim to benefit travelers between the two island chains.  

"We are delighted to partner with Japan Airlines for our long-term future in Japan," said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian Airlines' president and CEO, in a written release. "Japan Airlines embodies the welcoming culture of Japan and is renowned for the quality of its services. Our partnership will greatly increase travel choices for those in Japan looking to travel to Hawaii as well as for those in Hawaii looking to travel to Japan."

The agreement between Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines, signed at a ceremony in Tokyo, takes effect March 25, 2018 (subject to government approval). The agreement provides for extensive code sharing, lounge access and frequent flyer program reciprocity.

"Hawaiian Airlines is well known among Japanese travelers for its warm hospitality and its excellent record for punctuality and safety," said Yoshiharu Ueki, president of Japan Airlines. "We look forward to providing our passengers with additional options of exceptional service and comfortable travel to and throughout the Hawaiian Islands."

As part of this comprehensive partnership, the two carriers also intend to establish a joint venture designed to provide even more choices, convenience and enhancements to the traveling public to/from Japan and beyond to multiple Asian markets.

In the near-term, JAL guests will have unlimited access to Hawaiian's vast neighbor island and Japan-Hawaii network, including non-stop flights between Sapporo and Honolulu.

Hawaiian Airlines will have full access to JAL's domestic network, which includes Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sendaiand Aomori.

Hawaiian's Japan-to-Hawaii flights will be offered as new options within Japan Airlines' wholly owned subsidiary, JALPAK, a high reputable package tour operator in Japan.

JAL Mileage Bank and HawaiianMiles members will be able to earn miles on the codeshare flights. Further opportunities for accrual and redemption of mileage will be expanded at a later date.

Guests will have access to both airlines' lounges, and when Hawaiian has completed its planned relocation to Terminal 2 at Tokyo Narita Airport, guests of each airline will be able to transfer between each carrier's networks.

Visit www.hawaiianairlines.com and www.jal.com. And keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.

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