United’s pandemic-era test connecting California’s Orange County to Hawaii is coming to an end.
The Chicago-based carrier operates at John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County and Daniel K. It will stop flying between Inoue International Airport (HNL) on February 25, 2023, which was first seen in the Cirium schedule and later confirmed by a carrier. Spokesperson.
The route was first launched on May 6, 2021 with a once-daily service. It began at a time when United was looking to capitalize on increased summer demand in Hawaii during the pandemic.
Due to lower-than-expected demand from Orange County, in September 2022, the airline’s daily service changed to once-a-week flights.
Now, the airline has called it quits on flights from Orange County to Hawaii altogether, an unfortunate decision after nearly two years of service in the market.
Without United, fliers in the Los Angeles area must travel to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) or Long Beach Airport (LGB), which continue to serve the 50th state with plenty of flights.
From its hub in Los Angeles, United offers seven flights to Hawaii, including three daily flights to Honolulu.
In a statement confirming the cut, a United spokesperson shared, “We regularly review our schedule and make adjustments based on a number of factors, including what we see as increased demand for travel.”
While it was in operation, United’s service from Orange County was the airport’s only nonstop service to Hawaii. Orange County will not be connected to Hawaii for nearly nine years before flights begin in May 2021, Sirius charts show.
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United is the last carrier to operate flights to the market, which will technically resume United’s most recent service.
United inherited two legacy Continental routes, one from SNA to HNL and the other from SNA to Kahului Airport (OGG) when the carriers merged in 2010. United stopped flying Maui in January 2012, followed by Honolulu six months later.
Now, just 10 years later, a limited-time pandemic-era experiment will once again leave SNA without service to Hawaii.
It’s not all bad news for the Orange County Flyers. That’s because United will operate an additional flight between SNA and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to replace the Hawaiian service, a carrier spokesperson told TPG.
Securing takeoff and landing rights in Orange County is fierce competition. SNA is popular with locals and visitors who want to avoid the much larger and busier LAX.
Additionally, airlines like to tap into the airport’s catchment area, which is one of the most convenient in the country. (American Airlines made headlines during the pandemic for introducing a new transcontinental flight to New York, powered by its swankiest three-cabin jet.)
Orange County officials are using the locations to control the amount of air traffic in the area. Although there is no federally administered slot program in the SNA in the traditional sense (to limit capacity), local authorities limit commercial passenger traffic for noise abatement and other reasons.
Instead of leaving the slot unused, United will improve service on a key transcon route — which would be better than the airline’s pandemic-period service to Hawaii.