Good news for the Big Island of Hawaii and its east side city by the bay.
Continental Airlines will begin offering the first major carrier daily nonstop flights from the U.S. Mainland to Hilo in more than a quarter century, beginning June 2011.
Continental announced this week that it would be adding a daily nonstop flight between Los Angeles, Calif., and Hilo, and a weekly nonstop flight between San Francisco, Calif., and Hilo. Both flights begin service on June 9, 2011.
Flight times for the new route will be:
• Los Angeles, Calif. – Hilo, Hawaii
Departure: 5 p.m. (West Coast time), daily
Arrival: 7:40 p.m. (Hawaii time), same day
• Hilo, Hawaii – Los Angeles, Calif.
Departure: 8:55 p.m. (Hawaii time), daily
Arrival: 5:15 a.m. (West Coast time), next day
• San Francisco, Calif. – Hilo, Hawaii
Departure: 4:20 p.m. (West Coast time), Saturdays
Arrival: 6:40 p.m. (Hawaii time), same day
• Hilo, Hawaii – San Francisco, Calif.
Departure: 9:20 p.m. (Hawaii time), Saturdays
Arrival: 5:20 a.m. (West Coast time), next day
Continental’s new routes mark the first time since 1983 that a major carrier has flown direct flights into Hilo from the Mainland. United Airlines, the last of the major carriers to operate daily flights to and from Hilo, stopped service to the Big Island’s east side in 1983. Economy carrier ATA Airlines flew a route from Oakland, Calif. to Hilo for two years before going out of business in April 2008.
United and Continental merged in May, under the new banner United Continental Holdings, Inc. Both carriers currently offer daily service to Kailua-Kona on the Big Island’s west side.
According to Hawaii Tourism Authority president and CEO Mike McCartney, Continental’s new routes could bring up to 40,000 more visitors to the Big Island annually, generating $50.6 million in direct visitor spending per year.
“Hilo has demonstrated its value as a premier visitor destination with nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival as featured attractions,” said Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi. “We believe that once visitors discover Hilo, they will want to return again and again.”
Houston, Texas-based Continental Airlines did not immediately announce any introductory airfare deals for the new route. We’ll keep you posted if deals are announced.
Reservations for Continental Airlines’ Los Angeles and San Francisco – Hilo routes can be booked now at Continental.com.
Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson