Hawaiian Air to cease Manila flights

Hawaiian Air to cease Manila flights

After five years, Hawaiian Airlines said it will shutdown its Manila service.

The state's No. 1 carrier blames low ticket prices and high fuel costs.

"I wished we were able to sustain the nonstop service but unfortunately we can't do it based on economic reality," said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian's chief commercial officer.

Hawaiian currently flies four weekly flights from Honolulu to Manila using its new Airbus A330 jets. But after Aug.1, that market will be served by just one direct carrier: Philippine Airlines.

Travel agents said that they were flooded by calls from customers concerned that the lack of competition will mean higher fares and fewer seats.

"A lot of them are alarmed so they called us and they want to know what's going on, what's happening," said Gemma Disuanco, travel consultant at Kwiky Travel in Kalihi.

Elma Pacleb, operations manager at Diplomat Tours and Travel, also in Kalihi, said her office fielded dozens of similar calls

"They are worried that the fares will go up because of monopoly because direct flights to Manila will be only one airline," she said.

On paper, the Philippines market appears attractive for a carrier like Hawaiian.

Filipino-Americans are the largest ethnic minority group in Hawaii with nearly 200,000 local residents. Many have close family ties in the Philippines and are frequent travelers there.

But Hawaiian says it simply was unable to charge enough for the flights.

"If you flew on our Manila flights, you might be surprised because people will say gosh, the flights are pretty full. The load factors weren't the challenge on this route, it was persistently low fares," Ingram said.

Hawaiian says it will honor all tickets through July 31 and is working to with other airlines to accommodate customer who bought tickets after that date.

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.