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.