Heading into the weekend, Hawaiian Airlines got some welcome news. Hawaii’s Governor David Ige announced a phase-out of restrictions for travel to, from, and within the state. With interisland travel restrictions lifting on June 15th, fewer restrictions for mainland travelers will materialize once the state hits certain vaccination goals.
Gov. Ige announces new lifting of restrictions
Starting on June 15th, all restrictions for inter-island travel will be lifted. There will be no testing or quarantine requirements for inter-island travel as the state rolls out vaccinations. As of Friday, June 4th, 52% of Hawaii’s residents have been fully vaccinated.
Travelers entering Hawaii who have been vaccinated in Hawaii may also bypass quarantine with a pre-travel test starting that same date. So, a Hawaiian resident vaccinated in Honolulu can take a trip to California and come back without needing to provide a pre-travel test result like other travelers have to do.
Phased removal of other travel restrictions
The Safe Travels Hawaii program will continue to remain in effect for passengers vaccinated on the mainland. However, when Hawaii reaches a 60% vaccination rate, the state will lift travel restrictions for Americans vaccinated on the mainland and visiting Hawaii. Those passengers will be able to bypass all testing and quarantine requirements with proof of vaccination through the state’s Safe Travels program.
Then, when the state hits a 70% vaccination rate, all restrictions on travel will be lifted. This will lead to the end of the Safe Travels program. With the end of this program, nonvaccinated individuals may also visit Hawaii without testing or quarantine requirements.
Gov. Ige stated the following on the phased removal of restrictions:
“The easing of travel restrictions is a direct result of our robust vaccination rate, and a community that sacrificed and did what it had to do over the past year and a half to stop the spread of COVID-19. We need to push hard now so we can get to the point where Safe Travels is no longer needed to keep the people of Hawai‘i safe.”
No firm dates
Aside from the June 15th date, which mostly impacts Hawaiian residents, there are no firm dates for the other reopenings. The vaccination rate continues to grow in Hawaii, where everyone ages 12 and older can get a vaccine.
According to data from the state of Hawaii, about 52% of the state’s population is already fully vaccinated, with 59% having received at least the first dose of the vaccine. That data is as of June 4th, at the time of writing.
The 60% threshold, which will lead to the lifting of travel restrictions for vaccinated Americans, is likely to come soon as people receive their second doses and more Hawaiian residents get vaccinated.
As for the 70% threshold, that could take a few more weeks. Depending on which vaccine a citizen receives, in a two-dose series, it could be either three or four weeks before they have to go in for their second dose, which leads to a delay in full vaccination.
If current trends hold in Hawaii, then the state could be looking at removing travel restrictions before the end of the summer. This would be huge news for passengers planning a journey in late July or into August. But vaccinated Americans will be able to enjoy fewer restrictions several weeks before unvaccinated Americans.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
Very welcome news for Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaii’s home state carrier, Hawaiian Airlines, needs inter-island travel to return. The airline has a heavy presence in the market, and it relies on a significant portion of its revenue from this market. With that travel set to come back soon, the summer could better restore revenues for Hawaiian than expected.
International travel will continue to be impacted, however. The bigger barrier is not for foreign citizens to come to the US, but for those citizens to go back to their homes, so even if Hawaii removes its state-level mandates on international travel, those passengers may take some time to come back to the skies.
Hawaiian Airlines is also well-known for carrying passengers from the mainland to Hawaii. This is the airline’s bread and butter. While it has been able to transport more Americans to the islands since the state’s reopening, it will now be able to cater to more travelers who would perhaps set aside plans for a Hawaii trip due to the testing requirements.
The Hawaii market
Hawaii is almost entirely a leisure market for airlines right now. Whether facing travel restrictions or a reduced appetite to get on a flight to another country, Americans have turned to Hawaii since the state’s reopening for Americans for a vacation. Since last fall, Hawaii has allowed Americans to come to the state if they undergo testing under the Safe Travels program.
US airlines have brought back Hawaii capacity – with some even adding capacity – far faster than they have brought back capacity in many other markets. This summer, Americans have come back to Hawaii in large numbers, though this does not mean an unlimited number of Americans will enjoy tourism to the islands.
Airlines also have to contend with limits on lodging and rental cars in the state. With increased demand, some travelers may be priced out of a trip to Hawaii due to prices going up for hotels. Rental cars, which have seen prices skyrocket in the last few months, are becoming difficult to find at lower prices in Hawaii, also leading some passengers to reconsider a vacation.
Once the travel restrictions are fully gone, there may be another surge of travel demand to Hawaii. If that materializes, passengers should expect increases in fares and lodging in Hawaii.
This may be tempered by seasonality. If the restrictions are lifted by the fall, after schools reopen and fewer families hop on a plane to Hawaii, this could counteract some of the upward pressure on pricing to and from the islands.
Nevertheless, Hawaii is just the latest in a long list of states, territories, and countries reopening based on vaccinations. This trend is expected to continue.
Are you excited to see Hawaii outline plans to reopen fully? Let us know in the comments!