ANCHORAGE - Alaska Airlines Inc. announced Wednesday that it plans to offer year-round direct flights between Hawaii and Anchorage, but some Alaskans are worried that the lack of competition for the route could lead to higher fares over the long term.
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The decision comes after Alaska bought out Hawaiian Vacations Inc., the only company that was offering such flights.
Alaska Airlines is stepping up to provide roughly the same amount of flights per week that Hawaiian Vacations offered on its chartered flights, company spokeswoman Caroline Boren said.
The Seattle-based carrier had previously announced winter-only flights.
The Anchorage to Honolulu flights will operate daily between Dec. 9 and April 26 and twice weekly, on Fridays and Saturdays, between April 27 and Oct. 25, the airline said.
But the buyout has raised some concerns among Alaskans about rising ticket prices to Hawaii.
"Prices are up, and they will continue to go higher," said Scott McMurren, a local travel industry analyst and columnist for the Anchorage Daily News.
Alaska Airline's cheapest flights to Honolulu in December and January are selling for $600 to $700 round trip. McMurren said the lowest fare from Anchorage to Hawaii last February was $360 round-trip through Northwest Airlines Corp.
Northwest recently ended its winter flights between Anchorage and Hawaii.
Starting Wednesday, Alaska began offering discounts through its annual Permanent Fund dividend sale.
The new fares include round-trip fares to Honolulu for about $500, not including taxes, between February and September 2008.