Hilo “United” with the “Continental” Mainland Again… Mainland Flights Resume to Hilo

Tonight marked the inaugural “United Airlines” Flight into Hilo, Hawaii in more than 28 years and the local media was invited onto the tarmac of the Hilo Airport to capture pictures of the arrival of the plane.

The plane arrived a few minutes early and caught many of the photographers off guard.  I caught this picture as it was coming in and then realized my camera settings were off…

As the plane careened down the tarmac it was greeted by a couple of firetrucks that showered it with water.  Thanks Devany for taking a better picture then what I was able to snap at the time!

The plane gets showered by two fire trucks. (Courtesy of Devany Vickery-Davidson)

Of course Mayor Kenoi was on hand to welcome the first folks off the plane!

Also on hand was  Councilmen Fred Blas and Donald Ikeda.

There were many moving moments throughout the night as folks saw their loved ones for the first time in a long time…

For me personally the most touching moment was watching this grandfather break down in tears holding his grandson for the first time ever!

The pilot of this inaugural flight was local boy Lance Lau from the Big Island himself!

Also on hand was Miss Aloha Hawaii, Tatiana Boteilho, to greet the folks getting off the plane.

Some other facts about these flights:

HTA says the flights have the potential to bring 40,000 additional visitors to the island, and could generate $50.6 million in direct visitor spending annually.

The airlines folks are calling the new Hilo flights “United Airlines, operated by Continental Airlines” … although in the beginning, they were being flagged as Continental. As you probably know, the airlines merged awhile ago.

  Los Angeles – Hilo (daily)                                Hilo – Los Angeles (daily)







5:00 p.m.

7:40 p.m.


8:55 p.m.

5:15 a.m.*


 San Francisco – Hilo (Saturday only)      Hilo – San Francisco (Saturday only)








4:20 p.m.

6:40 p.m.


9:20 p.m.

5:20 a.m.*


                 *Arrival time is the next day.


A new nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Hilo aboard United Airlines (operated by Continental Airlines) touched down early tonight, bringing rousing cheers of aloha, and later, tears of joy, as the plane landed and passengers disembarked into Hilo’s balmy evening.

It’s Hilo’s first direct flight from Los Angeles since 1983, some 28 years ago. On Sat., June 11, the newly merged United Airlines /Continental Airlines will start a new nonstop from San Francisco to Hilo, Saturdays only, arriving at 6:40 p.m. That will be the first nonstop to Hilo from the Bay Area since ATA went out of business in 2008.

The 737-800 aircraft from Los Angeles was full, and its 160 passengers landed about 10 minutes earlier than the anticipated 7:40 p.m. arrival. They were greeted at first with a dramatic arching “water curtain” sprayed over the taxiing aircraft by fire trucks, then upon deplaning, passengers were adorned with orchid lei at Gate 3. As they rode the escalator down towards baggage claim, Hawaiian musicians and hula dancers greeted them on the ground floor, amidst a mighty round of applause. The Big Island Visitors Bureau and its supporters presented each passenger with a glossy red bag filled with Hilo goodies, including Big Island Candies, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts, and more. Hilo Coffee Mill provided steaming hot cups of their special dark roast 100 percent Puna coffee as passengers waited for their luggage. Mayor Billy Kenoi, Miss Aloha Hawaii, Tatiana Boteilho, and Big Island Visitors Bureau Executive Director were among the local dignitaries greeting arriving passengers.

A few familiar faces arrived in Hilo, including pilot Lance Lau of Hilo, and revered Hawaiian musician Robert Cazimero. But when military wife Chanda Reyes and her young daughter Maya greeted Navy Lt. Carlos Reyes at the bottom of the escalator, there weren’t many dry eyes in the arrival area.  The family has been separated for six months while Lt. Reyes, a helicopter pilot, serves in Afghanistan.

“The Navy gave me this chance to meet my family anywhere for a reunion, and we chose Hilo. We’re from Colorado, and Hilo seems like a beautiful halfway spot between home and Afghanistan. This new flight made it easy to happen,” Lt. Reyes said, his arms woven tightly around his wife and baby girl. The family was headed to accommodations in lush, oceanfront Kapoho in Coastal Puna about a 40-minute drive from Hilo, but couldn’t help but linger and enjoy the talented hula performances at the airport.

Other families chatting to media around the baggage claim planned to visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, ‘Akaka Falls, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, and downtown Hilo. Others planned to spend some time in Hilo then head to West Hawai‘i, like the Dunlop family, who are booked in Waikoloa for the latter part of their vacation. With the new flights, visitors can fly into Hilo and out of Kona, or vice versa, and take in more of Hawai‘i, the Big Island, while saving on driving time.

George Applegate, BIVB’s Executive Director recalled that after the loss of ATA’s nonstop from Oakland in 2008, no one thought another nonstop would happen for Hilo, but gave kudos to Mayor Kenoi for staying positive, and proactive to bring in another mainland/Hilo flight

“These flights don’t materialize like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” Applegate said. “There is a lot of strategic planning, convincing and commitment that does into it. I want to acknowledge the thoughtful and determined effort that Mayor Kenoi and his team put into making these flights a reality. And now it looks like we might have our pot of gold, near the end of Rainbow Falls you might say,” Applegate said.

For Hilo Coffee Mill co-owner Jeanette Baysa, she hopes that Hilo passengers will drop by Hilo Coffee Mill, which is along the Volcano Heritage Corridor, and sample the delicious, award-winning East Hawai‘i coffees before venturing to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and Kailua-Kona.

“This way, we can introduce visitors to a well rounded Hawaiian coffee experience,” she said.

For more about Hilo town and outlying areas go to Why Hilo.

The return flights to the mainland depart Hilo as follows: daily at 8:55 p.m. from Hilo to Los Angeles, and 9:20 p.m. from Hilo to San Francisco (Saturdays only).

Feel free to click on the pictures below for a better view:

United Airlines Adding Two NEW Nonstop Flights into Hilo This Week

Thursday June 9th at 7:40 pm will be the first arrival of United Airlines new nonstop flights to Hilo, Hawaii from Los Angeles in over 28 years!

It’s been 28 years (1983) since Hilo had a direct flight from LA…Hilo had a direct from Oakland, but that ended when ATA went under in 2008.

United Air Lines’ Honolulu service was initiated on May 1, 1947. That year, the average passengers carried on this route (total of both directions) was 2,100 per month. In 1964, the monthly average was 33,100. For the period May 1, 1947, through August 31, 1964, 1,917,749 passengers were carried on the Honolulu route alone. The cargo-carried monthly average (also total of both directions) went from 36,500 pounds in 1947 to 787,000 in 1964, totaling for the period May 1, 1947, through July 31, 1964, a total of 45,985,000 pounds. When United Air Lines inaugurated Stratocruiser service from Hawaii to the mainland in 1950, Honolulu was linked directly with 87 mainland cities. In November, 1964, UAL installed in-flight movies for ocean-overflying passengers.

Media Release:

The news that United Airlines (operated by Continental Airlines) is adding two new nonstop flights into Hilo this June raises an interesting question: Why Hilo?

First, there is fun, funky, historic Hilo town itself. Bright, handsomely restored clapboard and stucco buildings near the bayfront are home to flower and antique shops, boutiques featuring the creations of local aloha wear designers, exotic ethnic restaurants and fun hole-in-the-wall eateries with favorite Hawaii dishes. A lively farmers market offers exotic fruits, Hawaiian coffees, and vegetables, as well as local crafts, all at great prices – and even massage.

The East Hawaii Cultural Center features always intriguing exhibits by local artists. The Pacific Tsunami Museum tells the dramatic stories of the 1946 and 1960 tsunamis that hit Hilo and the rest of Hawaii and the Lyman Mission House and Museum, features Hawaiian artifacts and natural history collections in a house built in 1839 by American Christian missionaries. The Imiloa Astronomy Center features stunning shows in its planetarium, and memorable exhibits that explain (in English and Hawaiian) the importance of the stars to the early Polynesian voyagers who first discovered these islands. The interactive displays at the Mokupapapa Discovery Center open a window onto the Papahanaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the remote Northwest Hawaiian Islands. The Monument is Hawaii’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site (the only other one is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, just up the hill from Hilo town).

Hilo is no “tourist town.” It is an authentic community whose friendly long-time residents go back generations to sugar plantation workers who were immigrants largely from Japan and the Philippines. But there’s plenty for a visitor to do here.

Afterall, Hilo is the gateway to all of East Hawaii, a sometimes overlooked adventurer’s paradise that stretches from the isolated Ka Lae peninsula – the southern-most point in the U.S. and a National Historic Landmark – where ocean-faring Polynesians first made landfall in Hawai‘i; to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where Kilauea volcano has been erupting since 1983; to the glistening jungles that tumble down-slope to the Puna coastline, where lava-heated ponds and clear tidepools speckle the shore. This diverse region is also where you find the only rainforest zoo in the U.S. (it’s free!), and the only winery on Hawaii Island.

East Hawaii continues to the summit of Maunakea, the world’s tallest mountain (measured from its base beneath the sea), and along the Hamakua Coast where silvery waterfalls, lush botanical gardens, and old sugar plantation towns lead to the raw beauty of Waipio Valley.

Within this vast, diverse landscape, spirited travelers can choose from a menu of adventures or create their own, whether on foot, in the water, up in the air, harnessed to a zipline, on horseback, behind the wheel, seated at a table – or all of the above! They can get a good taste of East Hawaii Island in just two or three days, but a week could easily be filled with exciting fun.

What Hilo town and the outlying districts are not is partly what makes the area so appealing. Instead of grand five-star resorts, the Hilo area offers a variety of excellent inns, bed & breakfast cottages, hostels and good family-friendly hotels, as well as comfortable cabins and campgrounds.

There are no broad, manicured white sand beaches in East Hawaii, but no one seems to miss them. Hilo town locals flock to the little coves and beach parks along Kalanianaole Avenue in Keaukaha for picnicking, snorkeling and splashing in the tidepools. Farther afield, around East Hawaii, there are black sand beaches and secret snorkel spots to explore along the dramatic, lava-rock shorelines of the Puna and Hamakua coasts.

So, why Hilo? Just come, and you’ll never ask that question again.

Getting Here: Two new direct flights begin service to Hilo this June. United Airlines (operated by Continental Airlines) will offer daily nonstop service from Los Angeles (LAX) to Hilo International Airport (ITO) starting June 9, and weekly flights from San Francisco (SFO) to ITO on Saturdays starting June 11. Rates and information at www.continental.com and www.united.com. Other direct flights from the mainland on major carriers serve the Kona International Airport, a 2-1/2 hour drive from Hilo. All major carriers and interisland aircraft provide connecting flights from Honolulu to Hilo and Kona. 

East Hawaii Fast Facts:

·  Kilauea is the world’s most active volcano, and has been flowing almost continuously since Jan. 3, 1983

·  Hawaii’s human history began at Ka Lae in the Kau District where the Marquesans first made landfall between 500 A.D. and 800 A.D.

·  King Kamehameha the Great launched 800 canoes from Hilo Bay, from where he set sail on his quest to conquer Kauai

·  Hilo is home to the world’s largest and most beloved hula competition, the Merrie Monarch Festival, which comes to town each year the week following Easter Sunday

·  East Hawaii produces 95 percent of the state’s papayas, and 65 percent of the world’s macadamia nuts

·  One of the world’s most accessible lava tubes, Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku), is found at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

·  Hilo is beautified by an average of 130 inches of rain a year, resulting in waterfalls, lush foliage and abundant rainbows For more about Hilo town and outlying areas go to www.gohawaii.com/big-island/regions-neighborhoods/hilo

Continental Airlines Announces New Service to Hilo, Hawai’i

Media Release:

Continental Airlines today announced new daily nonstop service to Hilo, Hawai’i, from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and once-weekly service to Hilo from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) beginning June 9, 2011.

The new flights complement Continental’s and United’s extensive service to Hawai’i. United, which has served the islands since 1947, and Continental collectively provide more mainland service to Hawai’i than any other carrier from their hubs at Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Houston, Chicago and Newark/New York.

“We are excited to provide customers the only direct flights to Hilo from the mainland,” said Jim Compton, executive vice president and chief revenue officer of United Continental Holdings, Inc. “These flights will offer customers convenient, nonstop service to the Big Island without having to connect in Honolulu.”

“The addition of the two routes is welcome news for Hawai’i Island and the entire state, and a result of the momentum established by our tourism industry to lead Hawai’i’s tourism recovery. Based on initial Hawai’i Tourism Authority projections, the flights could bring nearly 40,000 more visitors to the island and generate $50.6 million in direct visitor spending and $5.52 million in tax revenue,” said Mike McCartney, Hawai’i Tourism Authority president and CEO.

Continental will utilize a 160-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft on the new routes, with 16 seats in first class and 144 seats in economy. The flight schedules are as follows:

Los Angeles – Hilo (daily) Hilo – Los Angeles (daily)
Departs Arrives Aircraft Departs Arrives Aircraft
5:00 p.m. 7:40 p.m. 737-800 8:55 p.m. 5:15 a.m.* 737-800
San Francisco – Hilo
(Saturday only)
Hilo – San Francisco
(Saturday only)
Departs Arrives Aircraft Departs Arrives Aircraft
4:20 p.m. 6:40 p.m. 737-800 9:20 p.m. 5:20 a.m.* 737-800
*Arrival time is the next day.

The new flights are timed to provide convenient connections at Los Angeles and San Francisco, with an extensive network of United and Continental flights to more than 82 destinations throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Latin America. United’s hubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco are the largest of any carrier on the West Coast.

“Hilo has demonstrated its value as a premier visitor destination with nearby Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival as featured attractions, and we believe that once visitors discover Hilo, they will want to return again and again,” said County of Hawai’i Mayor Billy Kenoi. “I am grateful for Continental’s confidence in our future as a visitor destination, and I know these direct flights will become a win-win for both Continental and Hawai’i Island. Aloha and mahalo to Continental Airlines for being an industry leader and making this happen.”

About United Continental Holdings, Inc.

United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL) is the holding company for both United Airlines and Continental Airlines. Together with United Express, Continental Express and Continental Connection, these airlines operate a total of approximately 5,800 flights a day to 371 airports on six continents from their hubs in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark Liberty, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. United and Continental are members of Star Alliance, which offers 21,000 daily flights to 1,160 airports in 181 countries. United’s and Continental’s more than 80,000 employees reside in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world.For more information about United Continental Holdings, Inc., go to UnitedContinentalHoldings.com. For more information about the airlines, see united.com and continental.com, and follow each company on Twitter and Facebook.

SOURCE United Continental Holdings, Inc.