United to Invest $200m In Hawaii Airports

United Airlines have announced that they plan to invest a staggering $200m in upgrading the airports in Hawaii over the next ten years. Oscar Munoz, United’s CEO, said that the investments will be targeted at modernising tools and resources to give a better overall customer experience.

“We couldn’t be more supportive of a faster, better modernisation of the product” he said, in reference to the airports, “that is the image of Hawaii to the millions of tourists that come here,”

The islands of Hawaii rely heavily on the tourist dollar, taking in almost 900,000 visitors in June alone, as record numbers surged to visit the Garden Island. In the first six months of 2018, tourist spending totalled $9.3bn, up 1 per cent from 2017 despite the recent and ongoing eruption of Kilauea volcano.

“It couldn’t be more needed. All of us that fly here constantly have seen the effects of time.”, said Munoz.

Why is United planning Hawaii airport upgrades?

United has been a massive fan of Hawaii for a long, long time now. The carrier started flying to the islands more than 70 years ago but has recently ramped up its offerings as demand for visits to Hawaii have soared.

In 2017 and the first half of 2018, United Hawaii services scaled up massively. The carrier added a grand total of 11 new routes to the schedule, making it easier for their customers to say Aloha to a holiday here. Over the course of 2018, United’s Hawaii business will serve up almost 12,000 flights and 2.63 million seats.

When your stake in the air transportation functions of a US state are that large, it makes perfect sense to do what you can to ensure everything on the ground is working like a well-oiled machine.

Investing in Hawaii airport upgrades makes perfect sense for their main carrier. And United are one of the few who can afford it, posting revenue up eight per cent in the first quarter of the year (although net profits were down 17 per cent thanks to fuel price rises).

Who’s flying to Hawaii?

As tourism in Hawaii reaches new heights, plenty of carriers are looking to capitalise on the demand for transportation to and from the island state. In 2017, six carriers added new routes or increased capacity for flights to and from Hawaii airports, including:

united routes to hawaii
In 2017, United added several new routes to Hawaii from their mainland hub cities Photo: United Airlines

Through 2018 and 2019, the Hawaiian Tourism Authority has stated that it expects to see other carriers either start routes to Hawaii airports, or to increase the number and frequency of their current offerings. These are:

  • United Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • West Jet

Despite the encroachment of several other carriers, United remains the dominant carrier in the state. Munoz has said that United plan to work on shifting schedules around in the short-term future, making it easier to connect Hawaii to its main hub cities.

These are San Francisco, New York, Denver, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago. He said that the changes would aim to have passengers fly overnight, leaving the mainland in the evening and arriving in Hawaii the next morning. The new schedules are expected to be announced early next year, in February.