Qantas is suspending all flights to Honolulu over the next two month as the airline trims its schedule and reduces capacity – the number of seats in the air – "to better match travel demand in light of the sudden growth in Covid-19 cases."
The popular QF103/QF104 service between Sydney and Honolulu, which resumed on 20 December 2021 in the 'second wave' of Qantas' international reboot, has been running four times a week on an Airbus A330 while Australians sought a summer holiday break in Hawaii.
However, a spokesperson for the airline this morning confirmed to Executive Traveller the Sydney-Honolulu route would be suspended from Monday 31 January to Tuesday 26 March.
"Impacted customers are able to rebook to the next available Qantas, Jetstar or Hawaiian Airlines operated flight," the airline says. "Alternatively, they can choose a flight credit or a refund. Customers won’t be charged any change or cancellation fees."
Full details on Qantas’ rebooking and refund options for its cancelled flights to Honolulu can be found here; travellers with their heart set on a Honolulu escape will find Hawaiian Airlines is the best alternative, with this Qantas advisory for travel agents serving as an FAQ for Qantas-to-Hawaiian rebookings.
Hawaii's hometown carrier recommenced Sydney-Honolulu flights on 15 December 2021 and a spokesperson for the airline tells Executive Traveller it "will continue to operate four flights weekly between Sydney and Honolulu during February and March."
Those flights are be served by Hawaiian's Airbus A330, which features 18 business class seats that convert into a lie-flat bed for maximising your rest on the 10+ hour trans-Pacific trek.
That said, the 2-2-2 layout will make the middle seats preferred for direct access to the aisle and no seatmate stepping over you. Further back are 68 'economy comfort' seats with 36-inch pitch compared to 31 inches in standard economy.
"I think people are eager to get out and experience so many of the things that they've been missing and I expect that's particularly going to be true for folks in Australia who are so such voracious travellers in normal times," Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram told Executive Traveller in late 2021.
From its Honolulu hub, Hawaiian Airlines offers connecting flights around the tropical island cluster as well as to 16 other cities on the US mainland.
Dreamliners on the way
Hawaiian Airlines also expects to take delivery of the first of ten Boeing 787-9s in the second half of 2023.
"Our plan is to initially fly those to the US mainland, but ultimately we want to put those aeroplanes on long-haul routes where we can really take advantage of the unparalleled fuel efficiency of the aircraft, to places with strong demand and high load factors," Ingram tells Executive Traveller.
While this may well include New Yorkers seeking a tropical getaway – the 11 hour stretch from Gotham’s sidewalks to Honolulu’s beaches certainly qualifies as long-haul – Japan (a perennial source of premium visitors) and Australia are also on Ingram’s radar.
"Sydney certainly fits the bill for that, so I I think it is very possible you'll see (the Boeing 787-9) in Sydney in the not-too-distant future", he predicts.
However, as previously reported, Hawaiian Airlines will no longer fly to Brisbane, in what the carrier said was "a difficult decision, but like many other airlines we find ourselves rebuilding our network in a vastly different operating environment."