United Airlines plans $200M investment in Hawaii airports

HONOLULU (AP) — United Airlines is planning to invest $200 million in upgrades to Hawaii airports over the next decade, officials said. United CEO Oscar Munoz said the investment will be geared for modernizing the tools and resources employees use at airports in the state, aiming to give customers a better experience, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday. “We couldn’t be more supportive of a faster, better modernization of the product (state airports) that is the image of Hawaii to the millions of tourists that come here,” Munoz said. “It couldn’t be more needed. All of us that fly here constantly have seen the effects of time.” United is also planning to shift service schedules to make it easier to connect to Hawaii from its seven domestic hub cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, New York, Houston and Washington. The changes are aimed at allowing customers to depart the mainland at night so they can arrive in the state in the morning, Munoz said. The carrier is expecting to launch the scheduling change at the Denver airport in February. The airline has been offering service to Hawaii for 70 years. It expanded in the state over the last year, adding 11 new routes and more than 360,000 seats on flights, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The airline expects to have nearly 12,000 flights operating in Hawaii this year. United’s additional Hawaii routes initially benefited from increased demand, but then experienced a slight dip from the Kilauea volcano eruption and increased carrier competition, Munoz said. “From our perspective it is working out nicely. I think our expectations were probably slightly more,” Munoz said. “Exogenous factors have affected it, and of course you’ve seen a little bit of softening, but again we really haven’t changed much of our volume because we believe in the market.”