As you may have heard, US Airways has announced daily non-stop service from Charlotte to Honolulu starting in December. While I’m always happy to see any new lift coming to our state, this announcement wasn’t one that I expected, nor thought made sense.
First, the good news: Three carriers will offer non-stop service to Hawaii from the East Coast.
- Atlanta to Honolulu (Delta 747-400)
- Charlotte to Honolulu (US Airways 767-300)
- Newark to Honolulu (Continental 767-400)
Next, the bad news: Why this may not work.
1. Is there enough interest in Hawaii, anywhere in the vicinity of Charlotte, to support a daily 200+ seat flight? I don’t think so. US Airways will need to rely heavily on getting Hawaii-bound travelers into their Charlotte hub.
2. Their 767 aircraft is an internationally-configured plane that is not needed for Europe in the winter. It has the capability of coming to Hawaii non-stop, while a smaller and in many ways more versatile 757 does not.
3. Heavy discounting will also be required to fill the seats for a number of reasons:
- US Airways has enough trouble filling its smaller 757 planes which have been plying the skies from Phoenix to Hawaii. As a result, they have consistently been among the most discounted west coast to Hawaii services. They also rely on backtracking people into Phoenix, primarily from California, in order to pack the plane. Charlotte will be a similar model, only likely much worse.
- Transit times to Hawaii (in comparison with much shorter flights to Mexico and the Caribbean) have always been an issue in attracting east coast originating passengers.
- Delta has the same issues with their (even larger) 747 out of Atlanta. Since they started flying, we’ve seen some of the lowest Atlanta to Honolulu fares I can remember.
- Continental has been in the midst of near constant fare battles on its Newark-Honolulu route for almost a year.
- US Air, known for perhaps some of the worst service in the sky, will not be a comfortable place to spend nearly 10 hours.
Therefore, look for some great deals.
They haven’t been announced yet, but don’t worry, they will come.
If you plan to use this new service with US Air, I suggest that you do so sooner rather than later. If fuel prices are reasonable, it is a gamble that may or may not work. If fuel cost continues to escalate, don’t expect the service to be long-lived.