LIHU‘E — Alaska Airlines launched the inaugural direct flight from Lihu‘e to Portland, Ore.
A launch party featuring giveaways, upgrades and a cake from Kaua‘i Bakery was held at the gate Tuesday morning.
The Portland flight is available four days per week, according to Daniel Chun of Alaska Airlines. On alternate days, Alaska Airlines will feature a second flight to Seattle. The carrier also features daily flights to Seattle, San Jose, Calif., and Oakland, Calif.
“This is a seasonal flight,” said Chun, who is the regional manager of sales and community marketing for Alaska Airlines. “We’ll see what kind of demand this flight has between now and April.”
If the yield and load factor measure up, Chun said, the Portland route could become permanent and run year-round.
“It’s much more convenient,” passenger Sarah Kruse of Kaua‘i said of the new route. Kruse was traveling with her young daughter to Portland while en route to San Diego to visit family.
Passenger Wren Clark was flying to Portland before heading to Newport, Ore., after spending a week on Kaua‘i visiting a friend.
“This makes for ease of travel,” she said. “I didn’t know this was an inaugural flight.”
Peter and Elke Braunlich were returning to their home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, through Portland after cleaning their second home in Princeville that they “loaned to a good friend who was terminally ill.”
For the flight, Alaska Airlines uses a Boeing 737-800ETOPS plane that holds 16 passengers in first class and 141 passengers in coach along with the flight crew.
Chun added that the airline just purchased 50 additional Boeing 737 aircraft.
Alaska Airlines has won several awards for providing on-time service.
As the inaugural flight pulled away from the gate, Chun checked his watch, which showed 11:55 a.m.
“They just had a 10-minute early departure,” Chun said, “It was scheduled to leave at 12:05 p.m.”
• Laurie Cicotello, business writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org.