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Hawaii travel is booming: how many flights are we tracking?

Hawaii flights Honolulu airport tracking boom mainland

Hawaii travel is booming: how many flights are we tracking?

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When we last checked in on Hawaii flights in March, we could already see a clear uptrend in flights beginning. That has mostly continued upward since. And that’s no surprise: with a growing number of American travelers vaccinated but still facing closed borders and uncertainty around international travel, it’s an ideal holiday trip to take after more than a year of staying home. So with Hawaii travel booming more than ever, we took a look at the data. How many flights did we track through mid-May, which airline is flying the most and from where?

Hawaiian Airlines A330

Steady growth

In simple weekly flight totals, passenger Hawaii flights are up from 1447 in the first week of March to 1918 in the week to May 16. At some point there has to be a limit to the growth in flights to Hawaii, but it doesn’t seem as if we’ve reached it yet. And the peak summer travel period hasn’t even arrived yet.

Total Weekly Hawaii Passenger Flights, Jan 2020-May 2021

One point of interest for many has been to see whether a bunch of new traffic to remote islands like Hawaii would have a visible effect on Covid-19 cases. In the past two months, though we’ve seen some rise in cases as flights have gone up, the peak has been lower and has remained relatively stable for some time. This is a very unscientific measure, but an interesting one to look at on the chart nonetheless.

Hawaii Flights by Select Carriers and weekly new COVID cases graph

United takes the top spot

Interestingly, while most US airlines have been busy laying on additional Hawaii flights and catering to the booming demand, Delta and Southwest have not. Since early March both these airlines have kept flight numbers static. Meanwhile Hawaiian, Alaska, United and American are all up by about 100 weekly flights compared to early March. United saw the biggest growth with close to 150 additional weekly flights comparing early March to mid-May.

In fact in the most recent week we have data for – up to May 16 – United had the most flights to and from Hawaii of any airline. In previous weeks UA has mostly been in a close third place, behind both Hawaiian and Alaska. Though to be fair they have occasionally traded spots. American Airlines’ numbers are not far behind, but it’s clear who the top three to Hawaii are.

Top mainland gateways to Hawaii

In the most recent week to May 16, LAX saw more flights to Hawaii than the three main Bay Area airports combined (SFO, OAK and SJC). At other times they’ve traded places, but in terms of single airports LAX has dominated the charts. Seattle (SEA) has taken 2nd place for single airports, but if you include all the Bay Area airports Seattle falls well short of its numbers. Rounding out the top of the charts: Phoenix (PHX), Portland (PDX) and San Diego (SAN). All pretty much to be expected although I would have guessed San Diego would beat Phoenix and Portland.

In any case, Los Angeles is still the reigning champion as Hawaii gateway, and with a growth of about 70 weekly flights compared to early March, it’s seeing strong growth.Total Weekly Hawaii Flights from Top 10 origins

New service to come

Southwest Airlines HonoluluThe rise in passenger numbers to and from Hawaii is likely even bigger than the flight totals indicate, because many airlines have been putting additional wide-bodies on domestic routes and Hawaii is no exception. We’ve also heard announcements of yet more service to come, especially from Southwest (WN), which is planning a very serious expansion over the summer. With all that in mind, this will be an interesting one to check back in on regularly.

Featured image © Masahiro Watanabe

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