United Airlines recently announced that it will end its non-stop flight between Los Angeles (LAX) and Hilo, Hawaii (ITO) shortly after the new year on January 7th.
The move comes as United makes a flurry of adjustments to its flight operations for 2023, and leaves Hilo without a direct connection to the mainland for the first time since 2011.
Hilo is located on the east side of Hawaii Island (which is often referred to as the “Big Island”). It is the largest city on the island, but because it receives more rain, it hosts far fewer tourists than the island’s west-coast hub, Kailua-Kona. Most visitors to the island fly into Kona (KOA), which has many direct links to the west coast and beyond.
This won’t be the first time that Hilo has gone without a direct connection to the continental United States – it did so for nearly two decades between 1986 and 2006, and for various other segments of time, such as from 2008 to 2011. Continued, consistent demand has always been the issue for airlines.
The good news is that Hilo will continue to operate inter-island flights to Honolulu (Oahu) and Kahului (Maui), so one can still island-hop in and out of Hilo. But, all trans-Pacific flights from the Big Island will once again have to be taken from Kailua-Kona.
Despite being named Hilo International Airport, it has never offered an international flight. The name was given back in 1989 by politicians in an attempt to improve the airport’s image.