BY AUDREY MCAVOY | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HONOLULU — United will launch a daily nonstop flight between Washington, D.C. and Honolulu in June — raising to three the number of regularly scheduled direct air connections between Hawaii and the East Coast, the airline announced Tuesday.
The airline, which was formed out of a merger between United and Continental, will use Boeing 767-400 planes on the route serving Washington/Dulles International Airport. The company said it was capitalizing on the combined resources of the two airlines.
"The flexibility of our fleet allows us to put the right aircraft in the right markets to serve new communities and to add additional flights to communities we already serve," James Starnes, United's director of domestic planning, said in a statement.
Currently, the only nonstop flight from Hawaii to the East Coast is United's route from Honolulu to the airport in Newark, N.J., which serves the New York metropolitan area.
Hawaiian Airlines announced last year it would begin daily direct service from Honolulu to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport in June.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority, a quasi-state agency that promotes the islands to the world, said United's new route is "outstanding news" for local tourism. It estimated the route will bring in about $135 million in visitor spending and $14 million in tax revenue each year.
Both the Washington flight and Hawaiian's flight to JFK airport will provide "much needed access" from Hawaii to the East Coast, the agency said in a statement.
Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley has told investors that the rival company's Washington addition wouldn't affect his airline's forecast for the performance of its own East Coast offering. This is primarily because Hawaiian's partner on the East Coast, JetBlue Airways Corp., doesn't have flights from Washington to JFK that that would allow for easy connections to Hawaiian's new nonstop service.