Airline seats serving Maui estimated to hit 1.9 million

The number of airline seats for passengers headed to Kahului Airport is estimated to rise 3.5 percent to 1.9 million, the Hawaii Tourism Authority Seat Outlook said.

“The success of our visitor industry has a direct correlation with the increased airlift, and we are committed to ensuring that we maintain a strong inventory of air seats to support our industry and our state’s economy,” said Mike McCartney, president and chief executive officer of the HTA. “Hawaii lost 1.5 million air seats within two years following the closure of Aloha and ATA airlines and the economic downturn. Through our efforts and collaboration with our industry partners, it has taken us more than three years to gain back more than 2 million air seats to our state.”

This data comes on the heels of Kahului Airport capturing the 2012 US ANNIE Airport Awards, 5 million to 10 million annual passenger category, that rewards “airports that have achieved notable route and traffic related success in the U.S. during the year,” said award presenters Airline Network News & Analysis, an online publication and resource for the airline industry.

Honolulu International Airport captured the top spot in the over-10 million passenger category and Lihue Airport the No. 1 position in the 2 million to 5 million passenger category.

Kahului Airport captured its award – the second time the airport has taken the No. 1 spot – because of a year-on-year capacity increase of 13.9 percent last year.

“Illustrating the tough conditions in the current U.S. market for this size of airport, this beat the marginal 0.7 percent increase growth offered by Buffalo Niagara, N.Y.,” the second-place airport, said the online publication.

Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air and Hawaiian Airlines are driving the growth in seats to the Maui airport, the online publication said. Last year, Alaska and Allegiant offered new flights to Bellingham, Wash. Hawaiian Airlines increased its interisland flights, including 21 weekly to Lihue, and offered new services to San Jose and Oakland, Calif.

“The recognition of three of Hawaii’s airports by the US ANNIE Airport Awards is a tremendous honor for the state and a testament to the collaborative work by the airline and visitor industries contributing to the significant growth in airlift to the state,” said Ford Fuchigami, Transportation Department deputy director of the airports division.

The HTA report projects an annual increase of 4.6 percent (a total of 1.6 million seats) from domestic locations to Kahului in 2013. Among the locations to Maui with the largest projected percentage seat increases are Bellingham, 369.7 percent, 37,545 total seats; San Jose, 32 percent, 148,025; and Oakland, 20.6 percent, 149,285.

Areas of projected decline in seats include Sacramento, 15.5 percent, 57,305 total seats; San Francisco, 14.6 percent, 158,134; and Denver, 12.1 percent, 24,843.

Seats from Canada to Maui are expected to decline 2.8 percent to 164,932.

Statewide, the HTA projects that 2013 total scheduled seat capacity is expected to climb 6.8 percent over last year, bringing the estimated total seats to 10.75 million. This number would surpass the record high to the state.

Double-digit growth is expected out of the U.S. East, Japan, other Asia (South Korea, China and Taiwan) and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) regions. Contributing to the growth will be additional new routes from the U.S. and Asia-Pacific regions to the Hawaiian Islands from Boise, Idaho; Spokane, Wash.; San Diego; Taiwan; New Zealand; and Tokyo-Narita commencing in the first half of the year, the HTA said.