Allegiant Airlines on Tuesday announced new service to Hawaii beginning this summer. The carrier begins flights to Honolulu from Las Vegas on June 29, and from Fresno on June 30. Airfares will start at $174 each way.
"The announcement of service to Hawaii is a great achievement for Allegiant," company president Andrew Levy said in a prepared statement while in Hawaii. "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."
Whereas other airlines are practicing capacity discipline by reducing service and, in some markets, flying smaller aircraft than before, Allegiant is bucking the trend by adding new aircraft and routes. Allegiant posted a huge March gain of 23.3 percent more passengers carried than the previous year. Its load factor — the percentage of seats occupied — is also high compared to the rest of the industry. A total of 90.3 percent of seats were filled in the same month.
Allegiant's strategy includes service to popular leisure destinations out of smaller, underserved airports that have limited or no service. Fresno is obviously one of them and it used to be the airline's base before they relocated to Las Vegas in 2001.
The last airline to attempt such service to Hawaii out of Fresno was Hawaiian Airlines in 1986. The carrier pulled out of the market after only one flight due to lack of bookings. Allegiant is planning only one weekly flight from the city.
Allegiant's planned three-times weekly flights from Las Vegas make sense to me. Having worked at two vacation packaging companies in my career, Las Vegas was always the number one destination for people living in Hawaii traveling to the mainland. I managed inventory and pricing for a twice weekly charter flight from Vegas to Honolulu and it was almost effortless to fill the planes. Allegiant, I'm sure, is hoping for the same.
These flights will likely be a financial boon for the airline given their recent addition of a carry-on bag fee for any item that won't fit underneath the seat. Unless you can stuff a vacation's worth of clothing and supplies in a small backpack, a $35 will apply for either checking a bag or placing it in the overhead bin.
Allegiant will operate the service with its new Boeing 757 aircraft, though it has yet to receive final government certification of the aircraft.