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Alaska to offer Bellingham flights to Hawaii’s Big Island

Passengers load an Alaska Airlines flight June 7, 2011, at Bellingham airport. Alaska will offer direct flights to Hawaii’s Big Island starting fall 2016.
Passengers load an Alaska Airlines flight June 7, 2011, at Bellingham airport. Alaska will offer direct flights to Hawaii’s Big Island starting fall 2016. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Alaska Airlines has tweaked its seasonal schedule out of Bellingham, and that will mean direct flights to Hawaii’s Big Island.

The airline announced that it will begin weekly flights between Bellingham and Kona on Saturday, Nov. 12. The seasonal flights will go through April 1, 2017.

Seasonal flights out of Bellingham starting next fall also will include daily service to Las Vegas and four-times-a-week flights to Maui. The five-times-a-day flights to Seattle and daily flights to Portland, Ore., are offered year round, according to the news release.

The change also means Alaska will not be offering direct flights to Honolulu next fall, an option it had offered in recent years. The Honolulu flight had been under-performing, which was a factor in making the switch, said Bobbie Egan, media relations director for Alaska Airlines. She added that the flight to Kona is one of the airline’s more popular destinations out of Seattle.

The flights to Kona will be on a Boeing 737-800, which seats 16 passengers in first class and 147 in the main cabin.

Fall and winter are when Alaska and Allegiant Air ramp up flights to warmer destinations. The number of passengers flying out of Bellingham International Airport from November 2015 through February 2016 totaled 146,914, down 5.9 percent compared to a year earlier.

A big factor in that decline is the drop in the Canadian currency compared to the U.S. dollar. When the loonie was nearly par with the U.S. dollar, more than half of the passengers flying out of the airport were Canadian. Currently the Canadian dollar is around 76 cents compared to the U.S. dollar.

Even with the airport’s passenger decline, Egan said Alaska remains very committed to Bellingham.

“We appreciated the partnership with the Port (of Bellingham) in promoting flights out of Bellingham and we’re satisfied with the flights we do offer,” Egan said.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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