In the boldest move of its 53-year history, Aloha Airlines has decided to launch scheduled flights beyond the Hawaiian islands. In September, the carrier started weekly flights to the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific, and also plans its first flights to the US mainland in February.

The Marshall Islands, 4,000km (2,200m) west of Hawaii, has been urging Aloha to add service since Continental Micronesia dropped one of its three weekly flights a year ago. Aloha agreed, but had to wait until it secured approval from the US military to refuel its Boeing 737-200 on Johnston Island, a weapons storage base in the mid-Pacific.

Aloha's US mainland flights will operate twice daily from Oakland, California. Aloha will be the first carrier to operate 737s between the mainland and Hawaii. Glenn Zander, Aloha's chief executive, claims that the 737-700 will have the same available seat kilometre costs as those of widebodies.

Aloha has flown charters to Christmas and Midway islands for years, but scheduled flights beyond Hawaii rep-resent a new direction for the carrier.

The airline carries about 60% of Hawaii's inter-island passengers, but that traffic has been flat, or falling, in recent years. Observers see Aloha's moves as a strategy to generate new business for the carrier.

Source: Airline Business