Hawaii to get new flights from another airline

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Las Vegas-based Allegiant Airlines, after years of planning to serve Hawaii, is ready to make its move.

The discount carrier, known for high fees but low fares, and for earning sidestream revenues from hotel-booking commissions, says it will launch Honolulu service from Las Vegas and Fresno at the end of June.

The announcement late Monday night came after years of preparation, which involved leasing aircraft equipped for long flights over water, and the airline had to revise its plans when Alaska Airlines moved first in flying Canadians to Hawaii from Bellingham, Wash., which sources said had been Allegiant's original plan.

Allegiant mostly serves secondary markets, and in flying to Hawaii from Fresno it will be connecting a mainland city that has never had direct airlift to the islands before. Fresno has a metropolitan population of more than 1 million and has lately begun to recover from a severe recession.

Significantly, Allegiant says it plans to announce more service from other mainland cities in the future, and the airline is known to have leased enough aircraft to provide much more service than has been announced.

Allegiant follows an economic model invented by the European discount carrier Ryanair. It charges more fees than other carriers – recently it announced a $35 fee for carry-on bags – but its basic fares tend to be lower than other airlines, and by booking full vacation packages including hotel and attractions it earns other revenue.

Introductory fares from Las Vegas and Fresno are as low as $174 one-way but the fares cover a limited number of seats. The Vegas flights begin June 29 and the Fresno flights the following day.

Allegiant President Andrew Levy called the move "a great achievement" for the little carrier. "Service to Las Vegas and Fresno reflects a moderate growth plan by our company. With the addition of the four aircraft we have acquisitioned, we plan to expand service to other mainland cities in the future."

Mike McCartney, CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, estimates the announced flights will bring almost $30 million in visitor spending.

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