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Hilo International Airport to lose last direct flight to U.S. Mainland

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United Airlines has been offering service between Hilo and Los Angeles since 2011. But starting Jan. 7, 2023, that flight no longer will be offered, leaving Hilo International Airport with no direct flights to the mainland.

With United’s upcoming exit from Hilo, the airport will offer only inter-island travel with carriers Southwest, Hawaiian and Mokulele.

“We regularly adjust our schedule and continue to be a leader in service to Hawaiʻi from the continental U.S., including offering the most service to Kona of all U.S. carriers,” United stated in a press release to Big Island Now.

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United Airlines would not answer why it was eliminating the flight.

For some Hilo residents, the loss of the United flight will result in more expensive flights to the mainland, longer travel times and even not being able to see family.

Gordon Kling, 20, of Hilo, said he has been traveling to California three times a month for the past six years as he splits time with his parents.

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“It’s been a vital connection to keep family close,” he said.

With the announcement of United leaving Hilo airport, he is now looking at United flights at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole.

Kling said travel between Hilo and Kona can take an hour and a half on a good day.  The commute along Daniel K. Inouye Highway can be longer at times, and dangerous when afternoon fog sets in.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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