By Howard Dicus
HONOLULU and SANTA ANA, CALIF. (HawaiiNewsNow) - United Continental Corp. has decided to end its Continental flights from Orange County to Kahului, effective Jan. 2, less than two years after launching the service in March 2010.
The Orange County Register reported the decision in a travel column which said the service had not flown very full and suffered a traffic decline after the frequency of flights was reduced.
The last straw may have been a decision by executives of John Wayne International Airport, finding no takers for new customs facilities at their renovated Terminal C, offered discounted rents for any airline offering new flights. Southwest responded by announcing new flights by its subsidiary Air Tran from Orange County to Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas.
Cabo is a rival sun-and-surf location which could have taken more traffic from the Maui flight.
Nevertheless, the pullout is striking at a time when airlines have been mostly adding flights to Hawaii routes. Earlier this year United Continental launched direct flights from Los Angeles to Hilo, the first nonstop mainland connection for Hilo since the 1980s.
Orange County has three million people, one in which of whom claim Asian or Pacific Islander descent.
John Wayne airport is also popular among some Los Angeles residents who find the drive south to Orange County less inconvenient than the congestion at LAX.