A few months ago, Allegiant made the surprise announcement that they would be connecting Fresno with Honolulu. The airline, which actually started their business with a flight from Fresno, only had flights to Las Vegas from this market. No other airline offered service from Hawaii to Fresno.
I was skeptical of how well the flights would do, but they seem to have been quite the success.
The expansion announcement comes just a week after Allegiant reported a $25.2 million profit for the second quarter, a result that marked the company’s 38th consecutive profitable quarter.
“It has greatly exceeded our forecasts,” Levy is quoted by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser as saying of Allegiant’s performance so far on its routes to Hawaii. “We started flights to Honolulu from both Las Vegas and Fresno in the last days of June, so July is our only full month of operations. Despite a smaller-than-ideal sales window of only nine weeks, Las Vegas posted a 97.4% load factor (an industry measure of seats filled), and Fresno had a load factor of 96.8% during the month of July.”
The airline is so happy with the demand that they are launching additional flights to Honolulu from smaller airports, such as Boise and Stockton.
Alaska Airline also added service to FAT this year, with direct flights to San Diego.
Rising gas prices have definitely helped fill this plane, as it is expensive to drive to LAX or SFO for the flights, which was pretty standard practice for many Fresno travelers looking for a trip to the islands. Besides saving hours of time, now flyers save a couple of tanks of gas.
FAT has an interesting future ahead of it. On one side, rising fuel pricing mean airlines keep cutting smaller cities, and many cities across the country have completely lost service. On the other hand, rising fuel prices mean people no longer want to drive to hubs to travel. It’s hard to say if the next five years will see FAT add more direct flights (perhaps to markets like Mexico City, Houston and Chicago) or lose flights as fuel prices make the airport unprofitable.