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United Drops Nonstop Route to Hilo in Hawaii

The only nonstop route between Hilo and the mainland U.S. will take its final flight on January 7, 2023

by Fergus Cole

October 20, 2022

Photo: Courtesy of Marko Pavlichenko / Unsplash

United Airlines will drop its nonstop service between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Hawaii’s Hilo International Airport (ITO) from January 2023.

The Chicago-based carrier has operated the route since 2011 and currently flies between the two destinations five times per week.

However, United has announced that the final flight will leave the island on January 7, 2023, ending any direct link between Hilo and the mainland U.S. offered by any airline.

Passengers trying to get to the mainland from Hilo next year will have to get an inter-island flight to another airport in Hawaii, such as Honolulu International Airport (HNL) or Kona International Airport (KOA), before getting a connecting flight to one of the contiguous states. Inter-island flights are typically served by Southwest Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Mokulele Airlines.

Photo: Courtesy of Yassine Khalfalli / Unsplash

United Airlines, however, still offers nonstop routes to the mainland from four Hawaiian airports: Honolulu, Kona, Kauai, and Maui. 

Honolulu remains United’s largest hub in the state, with nonstop flights to Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco, Washington-Dulles, Chicago, Denver, and Houston.

The biggest airport in Hawaii in terms of total passenger numbers—and easiest to reach from Hilo—is Kona, which is served by all the major U.S. airlines, including United. This airport can be reached from Hilo by either a short flight or road.

Other airlines that operate nonstop flights between the mainland and Kona are Alaska AirlinesAmerican AirlinesDelta Air Lines, and Southwest Airlines.

United Airlines has blamed low demand for canceling the Los Angeles-Hilo route, as opposed to any pandemic-related cost issues. However, a spokesperson for the airline said they were confident that United is still offering more connections to Hawaii than any other airline.

“We regularly adjust our schedule and continue to be a leader in service to Hawaii from the continental U.S., including offering the most service to Kona of all U.S. carriers,” the United spokesperson told USA Today.