Alaska Airlines' capacity to Hawaii will decline by double digits in the six months ending in January 2014 compared to the same period one year earlier, reflecting the carrier's move to boost unit revenue on highly competitive flights to the islands.
The reductions, announced by Alaska in July, mirror a broader pullback by US carriers from Hawaii, a market some airline executives say has become saturated with seats.
During the six months of August 2013 to January 2014, Seattle-based Alaska will carry 590,163 seats on flights to Hawaii from roughly a half dozen cities in the western US and Anchorage in Alaska, according to Flightglobal/Innovata data.
That's 13% less than the 680,610 seats Alaska carried to Hawaii during the six months ending January 2013.
Alaska's flights to Hawaii will also decline 13% to 3,759 seats during the six period ending in January 2014, data shows.
Alaska's executives outlined the cuts in an 11 July conference call with investors and reporters. They said that this summer the airline reduced systemwide departures by 2%, with the majority of cuts affecting flights from Oakland and San Jose to Kona and Lihue in Hawaii, and from Sacramento to Maui.
Those cuts were producing double-digit unit revenue growth on affected routes, executives said.
They added that Alaska eliminated from its winter schedule 10 weekly round trips to Hawaii and eight weekly transcontinental round trips, freeing up 18 aircraft.
Other US carriers have also cut flights to Hawaii.
In the six months ending January 2014, US carriers will offer 3.3 million seats to Hawaii from more than a dozen mainland US destinations and Anchorage, down 8% from the same period ending in January 2013, according to Flightglobal/Innovata.
The number of departures will fall 6% year-over-year, to 16,390 during the six months ending in January 2014.
In a July earnings call, Hawaiian Airlines chief executive Mark Dunkerley noted there had been "extraordinary capacity additions from competitors" to Hawaii from North America during the preceding twelve months.
Industry-wide capacity in the fourth quarter of 2012 on routes to the US mainland was 13% higher than in the fourth quarter of 2011, and capacity in the first quarter of 2013 was up 11% year-over-year, Dunkerley said.
Though Hawaiian's capacity on North American routes will be flat during the next six months compared to the same period last year, other carriers have cut flights, Flightglobal/Innovata data shows.
American Airlines' available seats to Hawaii from the US mainland will decline 17% during the six month period. Capacity will fall 12% at United Airlines and 4% at Delta Air Lines, data shows.
Capacity at Allegiant Air, competes with Alaska on flights from the islands to smaller cities like Bellingham in Washington and Sacramento in California, will decline 15% during the period, year-over-year.
Las Vegas-based Allegiant began Hawaii flights in 2012, then announced the majority of its roughly one dozen routes would be placed on "temporary seasonal hiatus" starting 14 August due to insufficient demand.
"It's even more seasonal than we anticipated," Allegiant president Andrew Levy told Flightglobal in July of the Hawaii routes. "In the peak periods [the routes] work, but in the off peaks, so far, they have been a real challenge."