The gap in flights from the U.S. East Coast to Hawaii is slowly getting smaller. US Airways announced yesterday that on December 17th it will begin new nonstop service from CLT (Charlotte Douglas) to HNL (Honolulu). The flight will be operated daily on a Boeing 767 aircraft, with 18 First Class seats, and 186 in economy. The flight schedule, courtesy of US Airways, will be:
Routing Flight Frequency Departure Arrival
CLT-HNL US807 Daily 9:45am 2:59pm
HNL-CLT US808 Daily 5:45pm 7:42am (next day)
The addition of this flight is quite welcome, given that there are only two nonstop flights being operated from the US East Coast to Hawaii, ATL (Atlanta) to HNL on Delta, and EWR (Newark) to HNL on Continental. Most East Coast passengers are forced to connect through the West Coast, since that is where the bulk of the mainland US flights to Hawaii operate from. US Airways already currently operates flights to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island from its Phoenix hub, but this is its first attempt to penetrate the Hawaii market from further afield.
The unfortunate thing is that US Airways is planning for the daily flight to leave CLT at 9:45am. It still allows US Airways to connect passengers from the East to HNL via CLT, given its vast array of early morning flights to its CLT hub. For those looking to avoid the bulk of their travel to Hawaii on a single-aisle aircraft (most of the flights from the East Coast to the West Coast, and many flights from the West Coast to Hawaii, use single-aisle aircraft), this will come as a good option. However, US Airways plans to use the “In Flight Cafe” on this route, meaning no free meals on the 10 hour 14 minute flight.
Whats next for East Coast flights to Hawaii? The addition of the HNL-CLT flight may just be US Airways filing a void in their schedule, rather than filing the void in nonstops from the East Coast. According to a friend, because it currently only operates flights out of PHX to Hawaii, it is difficult to connect East Coast passengers, and thus they have to route many of their passengers on partner United via ORD (Chicago), DEN (Denver), SFO (San Francisco) and LAX (Los Angeles). Moreover, also according to a friend, because Hawaii is a leisure market, the financial incentives from obtaining first-class passengers aren’t existent, likely preventing an industry driven demand for more East Coast flights to Hawaii.
Nonetheless, Hawaiian Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for 12 A330-200’s, with delivery to begin in 2012, and 12 A350’s, with delivery to begin in 2017. Hawaiian also plans to lease 3 A330-200’s, with the first two to be delivered in 2010. The rumor mill is that Hawaiian plans to use some of the A330’s to begin nonstop service to the US East Coast. According to their president and CEO, Mark Dunkerley, their current long-haul fleet of B767’s make it unfeasible economically to operate East Coast flights. Moreover, rumors have it that Hawaiian may eventually use the A350’s to launch nonstop service to Europe and Asia.
As for US Airways, perhaps if the new CLT-HNL flight is successful, we may be seeing a PHL (Philadelphia)-HNL flight in the near future, which would allow Northeasterner’s to connect through US Airways’ PHL hub? We shall see.