Bloomberg News recently took a look at that, after Hawaiian Airlines said it got a quarter of all its revenue from interisland service and flew more than 1 million people a year just between Kahului and Honolulu.
Comparing that to mainland air corridors, Bloomberg found that was more than the traffic between Boston’s Logan airport and New York’s LaGuardia. It’s also more than any corridor from Chicago O’Hare other than New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Interisland flights are expensive on a per-mile basis. That’s because the cheapest part of a long-distance flight is the middle, where the aircraft is cruising and not burning much fuel. The most expensive part is takeoff. Interisland flights take off and then almost immediately begin descent for landing, completely omitting the inexpensive middle part.
Jet-props like Island Air flew are highly-efficient, using the props for takeoff and then cruising with the jet engines. But much of the cost-efficiency of interisland flights comes from what Hawaiian Airlines executive like to call, a bigger bus.
One of the difficulties the old go! faced was, it never got enough business to switch to larger jets, so when it flew at a loss to take market share from Aloha, it was actually losing more money than Aloha was. Unfortunately for Aloha, go!’s parent company had more money to lose.
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