Thursday | June 30, 2016
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Nonstop route to Kona takes off

Kona residents can hop a direct flight to Anchorage starting Saturday.

Alaska Airlines is offering the seasonal flight, which will run through April 7 using Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The planes seat 157 passengers.

Big Island Visitors Bureau Executive Director George Applegate said the start of the flight is good news for Hawaii Island.

“It’s going to open up a new market for us,” Applegate said Monday morning. “Those Alaskans love warm weather.”

Even better, he added, is visitors from Alaska tend to stay a long time, sometimes a month or even two.

“It’s just awesome,” he said. “I anticipate a lot of business.”

Although the flight is seasonal, running late fall through the middle of spring, getting those initial flights is a good start, he added.

First, a market needs to get “one flight, to prove it’s viable,” Applegate said. “Get whatever you can, just to get your foot in the door. It gives you an opportunity to promote the market.”

Ideally, he added, the flight would become a daily one.

The Big Island Visitors Bureau will be partnering with Alaska Airlines to promote the route, he added.

Alaska Airlines now offers five routes with flights directly to Kona, originating in Oakland, Calif., San Jose, Calif., Portland, Ore., Seattle and Anchorage, spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey said.

“We have increased service to all of the four major islands,” Lindsey added. “It’s part of a real growth we’ve had to the islands.”

The airline added two other nonstop seasonal flights this week, from Portland to Kauai, which began Monday, and Bellingham, Wash., to Maui, beginning Thursday.

Lindsey said the direct flights to neighbor islands appeal to West Coast visitors looking for a getaway.

Alaska now offers 27 flights a day to Hawaii’s four major islands from Anchorage and seven West Coast cities.