Beat of Hawaii visitor and friend Joan asked this morning why Kauai is continually left out of virtually all mainland to Hawaii deals. It is a question we’re asked quite frequently and that undoubtedly others are wondering about too. So here’s the answer together with some very good news for those of you planning a Hawaii vacation.
Why Maui and Oahu Hawaii Deals Reign Supreme for Now
These two islands are the most popular for Hawaii visitors. In the chart below, it is clear that these are the destinations of choice for the majority of Hawaii visitors. As a result the routes to these two islands are intensely competitive across multiple airlines. The volume of traffic also warrants flights to Hawaii using wide-body aircraft from many locations.
Tip: At this time Maui is even more competitive than Oahu making it the ideal destination for a 2016 value oriented Hawaii vacation.
Traffic by Island 2007-2014
This graphic from the state of Hawaii sums it up:
Big Island and Kauai Hawaii Deals – Very Good News Ahead
Problem: Spectacular Hawaii vacation destinations in their own right, these islands get only a fraction of the state’s visitor traffic. With a few minor exceptions, both islands are served entirely by direct narrow-body flights only from the west coast. Some of these services are not daily but rather operate only several times per week.
Hawaiian Airlines, which is obviously a driving force in Hawaii travel, has very limited direct flights to Kona and Kauai. The ones they have now are limited and seasonal. The issue here is that Hawaiian until now has not had the narrow body fleet required to serve these “thin” routes. But that is all about to change.
Solution: Starting in the 2nd half of 2017, Hawaiian Airlines will take delivery of its fleet of new single-aisle Airbus A321neo planes. These will largely be the workhorse fleet for the entire west coast and will be used for all their future nonstop flights to and from Kona and Kauai.
We expect to see many new routes using these planes including from places including Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, the Bay Area, Sacramento, Southern California and beyond.
The new planes have longer range capability compared with current generation 737-800 planes, such as those that are used by Alaska Airlines. Not to be left out, in 2017 Alaska will also begin delivery of Boeing 737 MAX8 planes, which have extended range capabilities, thus bringing even more routes and greater competition to these markets.