United Airlines to Suspend Hilo, Hawaii Route
Airlines Routes

United Airlines to Suspend Hilo, Hawaii Route

DALLAS – United Airlines (UA) filed plans over the weekend to discontinue service to Hilo, Hawaii, effective January 7.

The UA service cut to Hilo International Airport (ITO) was first spotted in Cirium timetables and later verified by a carrier official to thepointsguy.com.

Historically, UA has flown to ITO from its hub in Los Angeles (LAX). These flights began in June 2011 and have been running mostly continuously since then (except for a nearly year-long suspension during the pandemic).

When the airline reintroduced its mainland service to LAX in 2011, it also inaugurated a route from its San Francisco hub (SFO). That route, however, was short-lived, as the airline discontinued it in August 2013.

Los Angeles was thus the airport’s only nonstop connection to the mainland. ITO is connected to Honolulu and Kahului/Maui via inter-island routes provided by Hawaiian Airlines (HA), Southwest Airlines (WN), and Mokulele Airlines (9X); however, there will be no direct service to the mainland.

United Airlines N793UA BOEING 777-222(ER). Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Hilo vs Kona Service History


Hilo, located on the northeastern part of the island of the Big Island, has a small-town ambiance with a variety of activities for both tourists and locals.

The region is well-known for providing a more authentic Hawaiian experience for those seeking to bypass some of the most popular tourist attractions otherwise reached via Kona International Airport (KOA) at Keāhole, which is the busiest airport on the Island of Hawaii.

Kona International serves the four largest US airlines, providing nonstop service to the mainland and beyond. During the pandemic, UA made waves by launching the longest domestic nonstop flight from Chicago to Kona.

While UA’s Honolulu service was initiated on May 1, 1947, the carrier’s Hilo outpost has a long history, with flights originally starting there in 1967. In the 1970s, UA flew the Boeing 747 to the airport. However, as passenger volume declined in the years that followed, the Chicago-based airline pulled out of the airport in the mid-1980s.

By 2006, its 59th year of service to Hawaii, UA was flying there nonstop from six U.S. Mainland cities, including San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago.

The airline did not return to Hilo until June 2011, when pre-merger Continental Airlines began the aforementioned route from LAX and SFO.


Featured image: United Airlines Boeing 777-300ER. Photo: Yifei Yu/Airways

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