Last updated: 06:53 PM ET, Tue April 07 2015

Virgin America to Begin Flying to Hawaii from SFO

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | April 07, 2015

Virgin America to Begin Flying to Hawaii from SFO

There’s a new player in the Hawaii market.

Virgin America announced today it would begin service to Hawaii from its home base in San Francisco late this year.

Virgin will start flying to Honolulu, Oahu on Nov. 2 and to Kahului, Maui on Dec. 3, with fares on sale as of today from $199 one way (with taxes and restrictions applying).

According to the airline, Hawaii continues to be the No. 1 tourism destination from the West Coast, with over 3.2 million visitors in 2014. There are plenty of airlines that service the islands from the west coast – Hawaiian, American, Delta, United, Alaska, among them – but the carrier feels its customer service is strong enough to join the fray.

"This marks the next phase of growth for our airline, as we take delivery of new Airbus aircraft and expand our Elevate program with more world-class rewards destinations," said Virgin America President and Chief Executive Officer David Cush in a statement. "With a loyal following of Bay Area-based business travelers who have long requested our expansion to the islands, we couldn't be more pleased to offer our 'work-hard/play-hard' frequent flyers the opportunity to fly in style to the ultimate getaway. We look forward to bringing a new kind of flight service to the market and to building lasting community ties with the state of Hawaii." 

In a private call last month, Cush received permission from Hawaii Governor David Ige to bring Virgin America's new flight service to the state.

"On behalf of the state, I would like to welcome Virgin America to Hawaii and congratulate the company on its new service to the Hawaiian Islands," Ige said. "We are excited about the business and leisure travel opportunities the service will provide. We look forward to Virgin America's success in serving both visitors to and residents of Hawaii."

David Uchiyama, Vice President-Brand Management for Hawaii Tourism Authority, said bringing Virgin to the islands was five years in the making.

“This announcement is exciting news for Hawaii,” he said. “These new flights will increase access to the Hawaiian Islands from both our core U.S. West and U.S. East markets through Virgin America's extensive nationwide flight network. We estimate that flights will generate $138.6 million in visitor spending and $14.8 million in tax revenue for the state on an annual basis.”

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