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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 9, 2003

Delta to resume Atlanta flight

By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer

Delta Air Lines yesterday announced plans to reinstate its Mainland service from Honolulu with a nonstop flight to its Atlanta home base in the latest change affecting airline capacity to the Islands.

The additional service, which starts Aug. 1, follows Continental Airlines' announcement late last month of a new nonstop flight between Kahului and its Houston home base starting June 28. Aloha Airlines also announced it will start daily service between Reno, Nev., and Honolulu starting July 1.

Tourism officials consider nonstop flights to the South particularly attractive because they make travel to Hawai'i more convenient for people living in that region as well as those traveling from the East Coast.

East Coast visitors "tend to stay longer and spend more than the U.S.-West visitor," said Joseph Toy, president for consultant Hospitality Advisors LLC. The additional flights are "a very good signal for our market. It shows there's a little more confidence about what will happen over the summer."

The state does not track the spending patterns of visitors from the South. However, through November 2002, visitors from the East Coast spent an average of $163.50 a day in Hawai'i versus $138.60 a day by West Coast visitors, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Nonstop flights to Hawai'i also mean passengers encounter fewer hassles with security checkpoints, making them more willing to travel, said Rex Johnson, Hawai'i Tourism Authority executive director.

"The more nonstop flights the better because despite the long flights, we feel it makes it more convenient for the traveler," he said. "These are two big deals, both Delta and Continental."

Overall the Mainland visitor market has remained relatively stable, compared to the sharp decline in the international market and Japan in particular. Still, both U.S. and international markets have yet to rebound to pre-Sept. 11, 2001 levels in terms of total visitors.

The number of flights to and from Hawai'i also has yet to rebound. This year through March there were 42,132 takeoffs and landings by carriers at Honolulu International Airport, compared with 48,241 takeoffs and landings during the first three months of 2001, according to the Department of Transportation.

Aloha's Reno-to-Honolulu inaugural flight will depart the morning after final government approval, stopping in Orange County, Calif. The carrier is offering a $399 round-trip introductory fare.

Among other recent flight changes:

• Startup Mainline Airways LLC announced plans to start budget air service between Honolulu and Los Angeles starting July 3, although the plan is still being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

• Japan Airlines reduced flights from Tokyo to Honolulu to two flights per day instead of three on April 1.

• United Airlines cut one of its San Francisco-Honolulu flights between May 5 and June 11 because of a drop in bookings from the Iraq War.

Reach Sean Hao at 525-8093 shao@honoluluadvertiser.com.