Honolulu – Guam. Honolulu is the gateway to the US territory Guam. It’s a 7 ½-hour flight from the Aloha State and currently the only non-stop flight in the market is on United Airlines.
United Airlines connects to the US mainland and beyond to Honolulu.
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Flights from Honolulu to Guam are expensive compared to flights of similar duration. It can easily cost $2,000 to fly this round trip, and if originating from the US mainland, it will add even more to the final cost.
Guam is trying hard to establish itself as a tourism destination not only for Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and Australia, but also as a domestic destination. Guam maintains tourism representation in San Francisco and recently attended major tourism trade events in Las Vegas and Florida.
Guam has been reaching out to the MICE market, the LGBT market, and many other niches, but it has a difficult task in trying to attract US tourists and business travelers to this beautiful island.
Certainly, Guam tourism has a love-hate relationship with United Airlines. United operates the old Continental Micronesia hub in Guam flying to destinations in China, the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and to many not-so-well-known Pacific islands.
Many times, flights from Honolulu to Manila, or to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Tokyo, and Seoul are reasonably priced and can compete easily with other airlines serving this international market.
Flights to Guam from those markets are reasonably priced as well, making it an attractive holiday destination from China, Japan, Korea, Russia, and Australia. But for travelers from the rest of the US, it remains unaffordable.
Guam tourism loves United Airlines for providing access from these international markets, but confidentially and off the record, many tourism professionals told eTN they hate United’s monopoly on the domestic market to the rest of the United States. Due to the Jones Act, no foreign carrier is allowed to fly to Guam or to any other US destination non-stop.
Here is the catch and here is why United is disliked. Flying from Honolulu to Shanghai may cost round trip less than $600. The minute you try to relax in Guam for 3 days on your way out or on your return, it triples your air fare.
Selling short is a problem for airlines, but allowing a Guam stop on the return would force passengers to actually fly to Shanghai for example, so why not allow them to stop in Guam for some days to relax and help the tourism industry? Not only would it help travel and tourism in Guam, it would help the connection to the far away US mainland.
There may be a solution on the horizon. Mentioned by Guam-based experts that wanted to remain anonymous, Hawaiian Airlines, the fast-growing, Honolulu-based carrier, may have Guam as a future destination on its horizon.
This may very well open tourism doors to Guam not only from Hawaii, but other Hawaiian gateways in California or New York.
Air fares most likely would become more competitive and the demand for domestic tourists, business travelers, and family travel should dramatically increase.
eTN reached out to Hawaiian Airlines, and the issue may be so secret, that the response receive simply reads:
“We don’t comment on speculation. Mahalo.”
There was no name and no phone contact to ask more questions, but it would certainly be a potential move for the Hawaiian flag-carrier to extend their Aloha to Guam.