Will Hilo Airport (ITO) offer frequent direct passenger flights to the U.S. mainland in 2024?
Basic
2
į¹€4.6k
2025
5%
chance

An almost-every-day flight from Hilo to Los Angeles (and vice versa) started in 2010 but was discontinued in early 2023. Will frequent service to LAX or another mainland airport resume in 2024?

Terms

  • "U.S. mainland" is any airport in the contiguous 48 U.S. states.

  • "Frequent" is departing flights on at least three separate days of the same week. A "day" shall be a calendar day in the Hawaiian time zone.

  • "Direct flight" is a flight that makes no stops between Hilo and its first mainland destination.

  • "Passenger flight" is a flight that a typical U.S. citizen can book over the internet for a one-way cost of less than $2,000. (Past flights were much cheaper than that; I'm just trying to exclude private jet service.)

  • "2024" shall be the year ending 2024-12-31 23:59 Hawaiian time.

Resolutions

  • I may resolve this market to YES early if there is an official announcement from an established carrier that they will begin offering flights starting by 2024-12-25 that match the above terms. The announcement must be creditable in my personal opinion.

  • NO if, at no point during the year, do I find flights matching the above terms.

  • NO if it's officially announced that Hilo Airport will be shut down for the rest of the year or permanently.

  • I will avoid resolving to N/A or PROB unless something very unexpected happens.

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For some context, it seemed to me both pre-covid and post-covid that the United Airlines ITO-LAX flights, which ran 6 days a week, were almost always full (or nearly so), so there was sufficient demand. The prices were similar to the cost to fly to Honolulu (HNL) on comparable aircraft (737s), so I would've guessed there was reasonable opportunity for profit. However, United may have had significant fixed costs from operating at ITO which had to be entirely paid for by that single daily flight, rather than split across multiple flights like at their other operations in the archipelago.

Currently both Southwest and Hawaiian Airlines (HA) operate multiple daily flights out of ITO, with routes to Honolulu (O'ahu) and Kahului (Maui). I get the impression that HA really wants all of their long-haul flights to operate out of their recently-renovated facility in Honolulu, so I'm doubtful they'll provide service. I'm not sure about Southwest; I think they're still operating at a loss in the market, so I'm not sure they'll want to expand service. If anyone does it, I think the most likely would be United coming back---they still operate multiple daily flights to the other side of the island (Kona Airport, KOA). But with every U.S. airline suffering a pilot shortage, I'm skeptical about service resuming in 2024.

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