Alaska Airlines will drop two Hawaii-California routes, bolster others

Alaska Airlines is consolidating its flying to Kona on the big island of Hawaii, ending routes to two California airports. The move comes Southwest Airlines continues to expand its presence in the market.

Alaska will discontinue flights between Kona (KOA) and both Sacramento (SMF) and San Francisco (SFO) in March, Alaska spokesman Ray Lane confirmed Thursday. The move was first reported by Airline Route.

However, Seattle-based Alaska will boost service between Kona and both San Diego (SAN) and San Jose (SJC) in California to daily, Lane said.

“With competition increasing for travel to Hawaii, this schedule positions us to be competitive when guests are booking vacations,” he said.

Alaska’s changes in Kona come as Southwest is rapidly ramping up its schedule to Hawaii. The Dallas-based discounter began flights to the islands in March, and will launch nonstop flights to Kona from both Oakland (OAK) and San Jose in January. It will also begin service between Sacramento and Honolulu (HNL) the same month.

“Hawaii has just been tremendously successful right out of the gate,” said Southwest chief financial officer Tammy Romo in early September.

Alaska competes with Southwest on nearly all of the latter’s new routes to Hawaii. By March, they will both serve Honolulu, Kahului/Maui (OGG), Kona and Lihue (LIH) from Oakland and San Jose (SJC), as well as Kahului from Sacramento, according to Diio by Cirium schedules.

Southwest has also said it will add flights between San Diego and Hawaii but has yet to announce specific routes or dates. Alaska serves Honolulu, Kahului, Kona and Lihue from the Southern California airport.

Alaska was the third largest airline — after United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines — between California and Hawaii in 2018, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data via Diio. The airline carried nearly 15% of the 9.2 million passengers who flew between the states.

As for Kona, no airlines will fly to the airport nonstop from Sacramento once Alaska ends the route next March, Diio schedules show. United Airlines will be left as the only one flying between San Francisco and Kona.

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