More airlines are cutting back on service to Hawaii as travel demand drops in the wake of the global spread of coronavirus.
United, the largest domestic carrier to Hawaii, today said it planned to cut its domestic service by 10% and its international service by 20% starting in April. United Chairman Oscar Munoz and CEO Scott Kirby sent a letter to employees saying that current coronavirus-related conditions require reductions.
“Due to decline in demand flowing from the impact of COVID-19, we’re taking additional steps to reduce our international and domestic schedules. All of our schedule reductions are, importantly, being implemented in a way that minimizes the impact on our employees and our operation,” the letter read. “For example, we’re reducing the number of frequencies per week, finding routes with alternative travel options via other United hubs, and delaying start dates for seasonal travel to certain destinations – without closing any domestic stations.”
United said the changes will be made public March 7 and declined to provide further details now about how the cutbacks will impact Hawaii.
Prior to the changes, the carrier was forecast to bring nearly 2.77 million U.S. scheduled seats to Hawaii in 2020 up 1.3% from the nearly 2.73 million that it brought in 2019.
Due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Korean Air also said it has reduced or canceled some service routes. The reductions impact service between Honolulu and Incheon. According to the carrier’s website, it has suspended its KE051/052 service from March 2 to March 28.It has reduced its KE053/054 flights to four times a week from March 9 to April 25.
Prior to the cut back, DIIO airline data showed Korean Airlines servicing Hawaii with 408 flights and 143,844 seats from January to December 202o.That’s an average of eight flights and 2,766 seats per week.
Today’s cutbacks follow Hawaiian Airlines Feb. 26 announcement that it would temporarily suspend its five-times-weekly nonstop service between Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and Incheon International Airport (ICN), beginning March 2 through April 30, due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in South Korea.