Despite continued uncertainty caused by the current global pandemic, United announces two new Hawaii routes for 2021. Is that being a bit optimistic? Perhaps. But, it’ll definitely put more pressure on competitors.
Who knows how long we’ll have to live with our “new normal.” But, that’s not keeping United from planning for the future. In fact, yesterday, the Airline announced seven new long-haul routes to destinations around the world. So, before we get talk about the Hawaii flights, let’s briefly cover all of the other flights United announced yesterday.
New International Routes
All of United’s new international routes are to cities in Africa and India. Some are even among the carrier’s longest routes, including:
- Chicago to Delhi, India, operating daily using a Boeing 787-9 beginning in December 2020
- Newark to Johannesburg , South Africa, operating daily using a Boeing 787-9 beginning Spring 2021
- San Francisco to Bangalore, India, operating daily using a Boeing 787-9 beginning in Spring 2021
- Washington Dulles to Accra, Ghana, operating 3x weekly using a Boeing 787-8 beginning in Spring 2021
- Washington Dulles to Lagos, Nigeria, operating 3x weekly using a Boeing 787-8 beginning in Spring 2021
I won’t pretend to know why these new routes make sense. However, the San Francisco to Bangalore route is likely a result of increasing shifts in production from China. This is especially true for Apple, which contracts United for its flying needs.
United’s New Hawaii Routes
Both of United’s new Hawaii routes bypass Honolulu in favor of secondary cities. Those include:
- Chicago O’Hare to Kona, operating 4x weekly using a Boeing 787-8 beginning in Summer 2021
- Newark to Kahului, operating 4x weekly using a Boeing 767-300ER beginning in Summer 2021
Currently, United flies to Kona from Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; Delta serves Kona from Los Angeles and Seattle; American serves Kona from Dallas (seasonal), Los Angeles, and Phoenix; Alaska serves Kona from Anchorage (seasonal), Los Angeles (beginning December 2020), Oakland, Portland (seasonal), San Diego, San Jose, and Seattle; Southwest serves Kona from Oakland and San Jose; and Hawaiian serves Kona from Los Angeles.
As for Kahului, United currently flies from Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Competing on the route are Alaska: Anchorage (seasonal), Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle; American: Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix; Delta: Los Angeles, Salt Lake City (seasonal), Seattle; Hawaiian: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle; and Southwest: Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Jose.
Competition is always good. Currently, the Kona market is dominated by Alaska Air, while Kahului is dominated by Hawaiian. I’d say that Alaska has the most to lose on these routes, but maybe not. Their increasing partnership with American will help strengthen their position. As a result, Hawaiian is most likely at risk of increases in competition. Especially since they hinted at using their new Boeing 787s on East Coast routes, along with flights to Asia and possibly Europe. And, as you can guess, more direct flights to Hawaii’s secondary airports reduces the need for inter-island flights, which is another risk for Hawaiian.
United Announces Two New Hawaii Routes for 2021, Final Thoughts
United isn’t the only airline to announce new Hawaii routes this year. Alaska did too earlier in the year. But, even if we reopen in October as currently predicted, it’ll be a long time before tourist demand makes a full recovery. Sure, there will be some pent-up initial demand. But, after that, we can probably expect a drop-off in arrivals – just like in Las Vegas.