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Allegiant Slashes Hawai’i Flying This Fall, and It Shouldn’t be a Surprise

The only thing I’d heard surrounding Allegiant’s Hawai’i flying recently was regarding mechanical problems impacting half the 757 fleet. That caused a bunch of cancellations but it didn’t indicate anything about how well or how poorly the flights were performing from a revenue perspective. Now we know, however, that Allegiant is cutting a lot of Hawai’i service this Fall. With most airlines, that would be an admission of failure, but that’s not always the case with Allegiant.

This summer, Allegiant is flying from a bunch of different places to Honolulu. In traditional fashion, it’s spreading around its service with just a flight or two each week per destination. So while Allegiant serves Honolulu from nine cities, it only has 17 flights a week. Here’s how it looks:

Allegiant Summer 2013 Hawai'i Service

But starting mid-August, Allegiant cancels all service through the Fall except for 4 weekly flights split between Vegas and Bellingham. Here’s how that looks:

Allegiant Fall 2013 Hawai'i

That’s a really big cut. But does it mean the service is failing? With some airlines, it would mean that. But it’s not necessarily the case with Allegiant. The truth is that after mid-August, summer travel demand starts to tail off. After Labor Day, pretty much all the kids are back in school and that means that leisure travel demand really tanks. Business travel picks up, but remember, Allegiant isn’t attracting any kind of business traveler with such infrequent flying.

This isn’t all that different from the strategy employed by Allegiant in other markets. Take a look at the operations in Florida in September. Allegiant has several bases in Florida that account for a huge chunk of the airline’s network. But the airline literally operates half the capacity in September that it operates during a peak week in July. Flights are cut way back because demand is less. Granted, the percentage cut in Hawai’i is greater, but there also just aren’t that many flights in the first place.

Another thing to consider is that this doesn’t appear to be a last minute decision. Allegiant just extended its schedule for booking through October 28 and that’s when people noticed that many of those Hawai’i flights had disappeared. It’s not like they were originally for sale and Allegiant canceled them. This was part of the plan.

Where I think people get nervous is that Allegiant, via spokesperson Jessica Wheeler, told me that they “anticipate the flights coming back for the holidays, but no dates [are] set.” That might seem strange, but remember, Allegiant isn’t taking bookings past October anyway. So it’s no surprise that the dates aren’t set, because flights aren’t for sale yet.

Just because that isn’t a surprise doesn’t mean it’s a good plan. People always like to book holiday travel further in advance than usual, and this is especially true for Hawai’i. So you have a lot of people now sitting here wondering whether they might be able to fly Allegiant or whether they’ll have to connect on someone else. Since the schedule just opened through October, I imagine they’ll have to sit and wait for awhile, unless they decide to just jump on a connection because they don’t want to take a chance. Allegiant might want to sell a little further out in the future.

At this point, it’s hard to speculate how well the routes have done, but we’ll know more eventually. Depending upon which markets come back, when they come back, and how many flights they see, we can start to get an idea of which routes might be doing better than others. But just the fact that they made it through the summer means that they’re probably doing ok or they would have been cut sooner. After all, the Monterey flight was canceled before it even started.

[Maps via Great Circle Mapper]

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