Maui Travel Isn’t Recovering; Now What?

Nearly all airlines have cut Maui flights this week, including Alaska, Delta, Southwest, United, and others. While Hawaiian hasn’t yet, it will likely join soon for various reasons (see below). According to Hawaii Tourism, daily arrivals are simply not changing direction. Typically, we expect to see more than two times as many visitors on Maui at this time of year.

How the world perceived the results of the Lahaina fire.

The world was rocked by images of visitors sleeping on the floor at Maui and Honolulu airports as they complied with the state’s request to vacate the island. Beat of Hawaii editors were in Honolulu during that mass evacuation, and it was an unforgettable media frenzy-invoking scene that has remained indelible, together with the images of the Lahaina fire devastation, that to this day are beyond comprehension.

Maui flights: airlines take the axe.

Since the reality of the unchanging Maui tourism disaster has become apparent, airlines almost across the board have no choice but to reduce flights. Those included United Airlines, which has cut flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to the island and has temporarily reduced flights from Denver and Chicago.

Could a magic turnaround start come Thanksgiving?

There’s still a glimmer of hope that the messaging can move forward enough plus other factors come into play, to get visitors back on track to Maui by then. And in that regard, Southwest Airlines has suspended or reduced Maui flights from multiple cities, including Phoenix and Sacramento, until Thanksgiving week.

Alaska Airlines has also adjusted its fall schedule and has cut seat capacity to Maui. Flight reductions there include LAX, PDX, SEA, and SAN.

We also previously reported that Delta Air Lines implemented significant reductions in its Maui flights until the summer of 2024. They eliminated two important routes entirely: the nonstop flights from their hubs at Atlanta and Minneapolis.

American Airlines too pared back Maui flights, especially from Los Angeles this fall. And Westjet also has cut Maui flights from Calgary and Edmonton, Canada.

While back at Hawaiian Airlines, we see no significant Maui flight cuts at this time, although we firmly believe those are coming. Hawaiian will concomitantly be facing the possibility of having up to one-half of their narrow-body fleet in the shop at any one time, for up to one year per plane over the next two years, due to engine repairs needed due to a massive recall that is spiraling.

Word on the street we’ve heard about Maui fires.

Beat of Hawaii editors have been traveling in Europe recently, partly to contrast changes in Hawaii and European travel. When talking with people in several countries, there is the feeling that others express to us that Hawaii itself burned down and that visitors should not go to Hawaii at this time. When we explain that it is a reasonably small albeit hugely important part of one island, people are generally quite surprised and pleased to hear that, but are pleased that the issues were more localized than they initially thought based on the media frenzy.

What will it take for Maui travel to return?

We can certainly understand the problematic issues at West Maui. Lahaina was a huge part of the West Maui region’s visitor stays. So visitors may feel more isolated than before and will be faced with seeing the damage to Lahaina’s devastation for years to come.

As for the remainder of Maui, nothing has changed either to reduce visitors or entice them to return. Most in Hawaii feel that visitors are welcome and needed.

But even without the lack of visitors and upcoming reservations, many of you have complained that there are still no significant reductions in the cost of accommodations or airfare for that matter. Accommodations, followed by airfare represent the major expenses of a Maui vacation. The lack of discounting remains concerning, juxtaposed with the island’s strong desire to bring more visitors.

Please share your thoughts.

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195 thoughts on “Maui Travel Isn’t Recovering; Now What?”

  1. Which is it? We want tourists or don’t want tourist? Beautiful geography with an ugly population. My vacation dollars go towards a relaxing, welcoming place- not Hawaii.

    1. If you think that Hawaii has an ugly population, you obviously should not come to Maui. The people are one of main reasons why I moved to Hawaii in the 1st place. Most are friendly, welcoming, relaxed, yet efficient and customer oriented. It’s the attitude of “some” tourists who feel entitled just because they have some money to spend that makes the Aloha spirit harder to practice.

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      1. As you said Eva, one of the things that make Hawaii so special is the people. The Hawaiians introduced the world to the Aloha spirit. It’s still there. But it does get tested. Sadly, the Internet has given power to people to spew hate. Someone sitting at a computer attacking the people of Hawaii when they are suffering defines them, not Hawaiians. The reality is there is a lot of Aloha to be found in Maui and a lot of good people doing a lot of good things. The numerous comments about how appreciated travelers felt when they were in Maui is the norm. Not the few people that feel they have to bash Hawaiians from their computer.

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      2. It takes 2 to tango. There is good and bad in all groups.
        Although my first, very short, visit to Hawaii was in 1965, I didn’t start coming regularly until the mid/late 1970s.

        I can count one 1 hand any problems I’ve had here. Actually, I can count them on 1 finger. A local tried to make me regret enjoying Pali Lookout. That’s it. One incident in over 40 years – not too bad.

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  2. We were booked in January, cancelled and instead we are going to Hawaii. Now I feel bad but airfares and rooms have not gotten any cheaper. Actually airfares are up.

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  3. Hotels that aren’t three times the price o tourist destinations on the mainland for a comparable room might be something to consider. Not everybody wants to pay $800 a night. Lots of choices out there.

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  4. Eva B: Lose Lose because that is such a huge hotel. It is closed to Holiday Guests that spend $$, the people who work there are laid off. No income, no tips. People who stay there go to other places in Kaanapali to eat, shop and spend money, but they cannot do that because they are closed to Holiday Guests. While the Hotel is doing a good thing for displaced people, they get the government money for the Fema and Red Cross people, but that doesn’t help the local economy – only Corporate.

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