A few years back Aloha and ATA went out of business, and the word on the street was that you simply could not make money flying a leisure airline from the West Coast to Hawaii. As they closed up shop, and capacity came out of the market, it was assumed that no airline would ever come in and fill those routes, since they would never be money-makers.
That sounds kinda funny now. Hawaiian has beefed up its West Coast operation considerably. Alaska, too, has launched service to Hawaii from the West Coast, including nonstops from Oakland and San Jose today.
And today brings word that airline nerds everywhere (?) have been waiting for: Allegiant has announced its inaugural service to Hawaii. Beginning June 29th, the airline brings nonstop service from Fresno and Las Vegas to Honolulu, with fares starting at $174. Before everyone freaks out about what a stupid move this is, Fresno service is once a week. Vegas is 3x a week. True – Hawaiian does fly nonstop from Honolulu to Vegas, fares are generally around $700. Vegas can likely handle 3 additional flights a week at half the price.
The market makes sense for Allegiant, as they make so much of their revenue from ancillary revenues — and God knows that the Hawaiian market is ripe for hotel packages and tours. Plus, it’s a grand total of 4 flights a week. If Hawaii doesn’t work from those cities, I’m sure they’ll try once-weekly service from Stockton, Bellingham or one of the other small cities they’ve made work.
Allegiant’s management has done an amazing job running that airline, and while I would typically be really nervous about a carrier making such a big shift in strategy, they’re entering Hawaii in such a small way (and they’re so nimble about closing down routes) that I give them a chance.