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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 10:53 a.m., Thursday, May 31, 2007

Alaska Airlines to offer Honolulu-Seattle flights

Advertiser Staff Writer

Alaska Airlines said today that it will operate daily nonstop service between Seattle and Honolulu, and Seattle and Lihu'e, Kaua'i, starting in October.

The Seattle-based carrier, known for its smiling Eskimo tail logo, also said it will operate daily flights between Honolulu and Anchorage on a seasonal basis starting Dec. 9.

"Hawai'i is the largest market out of Seattle and Anchorage that we didn't already serve," said Gregg Saretsky, Alaska Airlines' executive vice president of flight and marketing.

Alaska's Seattle-Honolulu service will kick off on Oct. 12 with a $109 one-way fare. The Seattle-Kaua'i flights will start Oct. 28 with a $149 one-way special fare. The airline also plans a $159 introductory fare for the Anchorage flights.

The introductory fares must be purchased by Saturday for travel through Dec. 13 for the Seattle flights. The special fare for the Anchorage service is good for travel through Feb. 14 and must be purchased by Saturday.

Alaska said it will fly 157-passenger Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The jets have a range of about 3,383 miles, according to the airline's Web site. Honolulu is 2,670 miles from Seattle and 2,780 miles from Anchorage.

The airline told The Associated Press that it wants to fly to the Big Island and Maui but has not set a firm date. Saretsky added that the airline has no plans to offer flights between Hawai'i and San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Founded in 1932, Alaska Airlines is the nation's ninth-largest carrier with 10,000 employees. Its parent company is Alaska Air Group, which reported revenues of about $3.3 billion last year.

Alaska spokeswoman Caroline Boren said Hawai'i is the most popular destination for Alaska's frequent-flier customers. The airline had a code-share agreement with Hawaiian Airlines that ended yesterday, Boren said.

The new Seattle-Honolulu service will compete with Hawaiian, which also operates direct flights between the two cities. Hawaiian also has an Anchorage-Honolulu charter flight, which it conducts for a local tour operator.

Aloha previously flew charters between Honolulu and Anchorage but stopped that service several years ago.

Boren said Alaska will not hire additional workers for its new Hawai'i service but will hire a contractor to handle its ground services.

Alaska's expansion comes as local airline capacity is expected to show no growth this summer.

According to a monthly survey by the state Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the number of passenger seats from the West Coast is expected to decline by 0.1 percent to about 1.7 million during the busy May through July period.

That outlook comes after major domestic carriers ramped up their capacity in recent years. In 2005, US Airways began flying daily round-trips from Phoenix to Honolulu and Maui, and last November ATA Airlines Inc. boosted its capacity on its Mainland-Hawai'i flights by 14 percent.

Reach Rick Daysog at 525-8064 or rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com.