Alaska Airlines will drop two of its Hawaii routes in March next year. Both San Francisco and Sacramento will lose nonstop services to Kona, but Alaska will maintain its seat count by bolstering other California services. This comes hot on the heels of more route expansion announcements by Southwest Airlines, who are rapidly catching up with Alaska in terms of seats offered to Hawaii.
The revamped Alaska Airlines Hawaii schedule
According to scheduling information from Routes Online, two services to Hawaii will be canceled in the new year. These are:
- Sacramento to Kona: Currently the route operates three times per week with a 737-800. The route will cease from 18th March 2020.
- San Francisco to Kona: Currently the route operates four times per week using a 737-800 also. The service will be canceled from 19th March 2020.
The cancellation of these routes will mean Sacramento now has no connection to Kona at all. On the San Francisco route, only United will be left operating services.
However, although this looks like Alaska is pulling back from Hawaii, it’s not the whole story. What’s actually going on is a consolidation of routes, as Alaska plans to otherwise bolster services from different locations.
The Star Advertiser reports that, overall, these changes will result in the same seat capacity to Hawaii from the mainland by Alaska. Simple Flying reached out to Alaska for comment, who told us,
“We’re exiting SFO-KOA and SMF-KOA on March 19. By exiting SFO-KOA and SMF-KOA, we’re bringing both San Jose and San Diego up to once daily flights to each of the four major Hawaiian airports.
“With competition increasing for travel to Hawaii, this schedule positions us to be competitive when guests are booking vacations.”
Southwest expanding California services
Although Alaska Airlines relies heavily on its Hawaii routes, new competition from Southwest Airlines has undoubtedly made them rethink their plans. Southwest were very sneaky when they launched Hawaii flights, deliberately picking routes that would not put them in contest with the US big three. Instead, Southwest has been competing only with Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.
Southwest’s entry into Hawaii has, predictably enough, caused fare wars, a factor which has been largely positive for passengers. However, it has also created pockets of overcapacity, particularly in the north of California, which is almost certainly a catalyst for Alaska’s changes.
Just last week, Southwest announced its latest expansion into Hawaii, which includes nonstop flights from San Jose and Oakland to Kona beginning in January. In the same month, from Sacramento, Southwest will start flying to Honolulu also.
When these services launch, it will bring Southwest’s seat count in the transpacific market pretty close to that of Alaska Airlines, which is incredible really when you consider they only started the route last March. Alaska remains the airline with the most daily flights from the west coast to Hawaii and allocates around 4,800 – 4,900 seats per day to these services.
Alaska Airlines began flying to Hawaii back in 2007. Now, over a decade later, it seems the newcomer could be taking its crown in under a year. With Southwest still hamstrung by the 737 MAX grounding, we could be yet to see the best of the Dallas based airline.