Topic of the Week: Hawaiian Says Aloha to New York City


For years, Hawaiian had been primarily an airline offering interisland flights and service to the West Coast of the US. There were minor incursions into other parts of the Pacific but the last couple of years have been different. First, Hawaiian has made a big push into Asia with multiple cities in Japan and Korea. Now, Hawaiian is finally going to the East Coast of the US with flights to New York/JFK. Think this will work? Does Hawaiian have a good plan here?

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

18 comments on “Topic of the Week: Hawaiian Says Aloha to New York City

  1. Whether its a good plan or not those promo fares/loss leader of $212 coach each way before taxes/fee are enticing ($808 FC). I love the idea of better direct service to anywhere. Whether it’s sustainable its a good question. Not sure how many families are too excited about 10.5 hours in coach for vacation.

  2. Well, history isn’t on their side. CO’s EWR-HNL and DL’s ATL-HNL are the only East Coast-Hawaii flights that have ever survived. And I assume both those flights benefit from frequent flyers burning their miles and the obvious advantages of operating such a flight from a major hub.

    Given the price of jet fuel these days, I’d be a little surprised if HA can cover its costs. I suppose they’ll try to heavily promote the flight through travel agents, but how important are such agents these days for leisure travel?

    I’m about the only East Coaster I know who regularly travels to Hawaii, and I only do it because of frequent flyer miles. So I’m not sure who their target audience is. For most folks on the East Coast, Hawaii remains a “once in a lifetime” kind of trip, at best. Are there enough of them to fill this plane? Call me skeptical.

  3. I hope the flight works. Between the large population east of Manhattan that uses JFK over EWR, and some regional feed from jetBlue (the flight uses jetBlue’s T5) it may get enough traction to succeed.

  4. It will work for anyone needing to stop in Hawaii before heading off elsewhere and for anyone wanting to see whales and an active volcano without leaving the United States.

    AA did it ages ago to get people to the south pacific but once those routes dropped so did JFK-HNL. Most people on the east coast wanting fun in the sun just take a quick flight to Florida or the Caribbean, no need to go to Hawaii if you have to pay actual money for a ticket and not just go on free miles.

    Does anyone see a tie up with Delta on this? That could be the only way it works is getting the want-a-be King of NYC feeding passengers to/from this flight.

    1. At the same time, I can’t imagine that there would be that much connecting traffic on this route – JFK isn’t great for connections, and if passengers from anywhere (perhaps except elsewhere in the northeast) are going to connect, they could easily do so on the west coast or a few airports in between.

      1. Oh that’s funny. I first started to put up a topic at Qatar Airways and its, um, outspoken CEO but then I figured the Hawaiian announcement would have more interest. Guess the url didn’t update.

  5. South Florida is a heck of a lot closer for a winter getaway for New Yorkers. Hawaii still has that aura of being an “exotic” destination, but it’s not cheap to get there, nor is anything cheap once you get there. Cheap seats might fill the planes but I doubt any family is going to make an annual excursion of it. I just don’t see it lasting very long.

    1. Prices in Hawaii aren’t significantly higher than anywhere else for most things. Gas is more but actually not too much worse than California. Prices for things at Costco, Target, and WalMart in Hawaii are comparable to mainland prices.

  6. I wonder how much connectivity there will be in both directions between JFK and Asia. May be a consolidator’s dream and may steal low-end VFR traffic between New York and Asia.

  7. Hawaii is still a destination where brick and mortar travel agents can compete with the online agencies. Bulk fares are available in conunction with a hotel or car rental pacakage. Hawaiian is going to have to make nice with the tour operators travel agents use to book these packages. During summer and holiday periods the fares are high enough to pay commision to the operators. In the shoulder seasons it might be another story. Hawaiian can also sell tickets to the Orient and South Pacific with their newly expanded network. Wonder how much feed Jet Blue has to connect with a 9AM departure? It could work, but a JFK connection can be a hard sell. They’re going to need a savy sales department and support from the Hawaiian tourist board quick. 10 1/2 hours flying time isn’t the end of the world, and Hawaii, even with recent hotel price increases, is a lot more reasonable than the public thinks.

  8. The other thing is that visa restrictions have reduced significantly for Asian tourists, particularly Korea and Japan. China is almost visa-free I think. Manila also has demand to Hawaii. So it makes sense for Hawaiian to target those passengers and tourists from Asia with packages.

    The A330’s will save them some fuel, and they’re pretty densely packed. However, I don’t think Honolulu will ever be a connecting hub. It’s just too far out of the way.

    UA may respond by bringing back free meals on EWR-HNL but that’s about all the response I see.

    1. Both Taiwan and China still require US visas. Japan and South Korea are part of the Visa Waiver Program, though.

  9. Well, according to the JFK Airport Wikipedia page (that is not at all a verifiable source) Hawaiian will be servicing at the amazing (although a long walk from AirTrain) Terminal 5 as the only airline their other than JetBlue.
    This makes me wonder can the new Terminal 5 handle wide-bodied jets at all?
    Since these flights, although long are considered domestic, they could use that terminal (JetBlue’s terminal is the only one without customs) for both arrivals and departures and connect to JetBlue’s short hops in the region (this would be intra-terminal connections so really short) can be the flights that make Honolulu work. I feel like JetBlue would be a good domestic partner for Hawaiian.
    This also gives the New York tri-state region every US Passenger Airline considered a Major Carrier.

  10. If any plane could work its the A330. But, history is against them. Does CO still do EWR-HNL? I remember TZ doing JFK-HNL on the L1011 (boy does that sound cool). But I don’t think anyone made a (profitable) go of it since Pan Am and United’s DC-8’s

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier