While not having mentioned them before, I’ve been keeping my eyes on Richard Branson’s SFO-based airline for some time.
Virgin America remains on a mission to expand their unique feel good brand, with top notch service, new planes, and other innovations. They’ve received accolades including “Best Domestic Airline” in Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards for three consecutive years. Virgin currently serves San Francisco, LA, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Toronto.
Virgin has eyes for Hawaii
[pullquote]Hawaii remains on our prospective destination list. –Virgin America[/pullquote]Virgin has had every intention to fly to Hawaii since its inception. There were talks about commencing Hawaii service as far back as 2008 that never came to fruition due to to economic reasons.
Fast forward three years. Virgin’s ability to serve Hawaii is currently limited by its aircraft. The company plans to triple its fleet from 27 to 90 planes over the next five years with an Airbus order placed last year. The new planes are not expected to begin entering service for another two years. Also, deliveries of the Hawaii-likely A320neo craft, might keep the islands five years out in their thinking. At least that’s where everything stood until last week.
American Airlines cancels SFO-HNL service
American Airlines announced last week that it will terminate this service starting September 7. AA has continued to shrink its less than hub presence in Northern California for a long time. There’s industry speculation that this departure may open the door to SFO-based Virgin’s entering Hawaii’s soon to be shark-filled waters earlier than they’d otherwise planned.
If Virgin does in fact decide that they would like to come to Hawaii sooner than later and fill the void that American is soon to leave, they will need to make other aircraft planes. And as we’ve all learned from Allegiant’s experience, that is easier said that done.
Hawaii competition shaping up
I still expect to see Southwest Airlines Hawaii service starting next year, as well as continued expansion of Alaska Air’s Hawaii flights. Allegiant in my opinion is a definite maybe, depending on just how hot this competition becomes. This can only be construed as positive in terms of future Hawaii travel deals.