H-SANTA MARIA

May 15, 2012 10:04 PM by Ariel Wesler, KSBY News

Santa Maria Aiport announces direct service to Hawaii

The wait is over. Pack your bags. The Central Coast is getting direct service from Santa Maria to the Aloha State.

Flights will start November 17 on Allegiant Air between Santa Maria and Honolulu. The airline will offer one flight each way on Saturdays only. Fares start at about $200 each way.

Allegiant already offers four flights from Santa Maria to Las Vegas and those have been successful. There's no question community leaders feel this could really help Santa Maria soar and even become the catalyst for further expansion that would benefit the region.

Hawaii has arrived on the Central Coast.

"Awesome! Great idea!" said Dayna Castro of Lompoc.

If you're leaving your corner of paradise for the Aloha State, you won't have to look any farther than the Santa Maria Airport.

"I love this airport. It's easy in and out. No parking fees," Castro said. "It'll be a lot easier than going down to LA or out of San Francisco. You just hope on the plane here and go."

City leaders say the benefits extend beyond Santa Maria and the flight will also help those in Hawaii, discover the Central Coast.

"I think it'll be good for not only the airport with our businesses, restaurants, rental cars, and hotels here, but also for the community at large, Pismo, and the other vacation destinations around here," said Santa Maria Airport Manager Chris Hastert.

The flight will leave Honolulu on Saturday morning, arrive in Santa Maria by the early afternoon and leave about 3 p.m. to head back to Hawaii. The Boeing 757 jets can carry about 220 passengers.

"It took a big investment to expand that runway, but immediately you see the results. We're bringing in flights that could not have happened if they had not done that," said Dave Cross with the Economic Development Commission.

And while community leaders have high hopes for Honolulu, airport officials have their sights set even higher.

"Denver, I think is really our next logical destination. We just need to convince the airline that it's a good market for them," Hastert said.

"Our little airport is growing up," Castro said.

And the community is ready for takeoff.

Hastert says with the way the airline industry has fared, it's been unlikely for smaller airports to get new service, so he's grateful for this.

As for the San Luis Obispo Airport, officials there don't think it will have much of an impact.

They're top three destinations right now are Phoenix, Seattle, and Washington D.C. They say Hawaii ranks 17th on the list of top destinations for San Luis Obispo travelers.

However, both airports are actively pursuing Denver, so the competition could heat up.

Since April, Allegiant has added flights to Hawaii from Fresno, Stockton, Las Vegas, Bellingham, WA, and Eugene, OR.

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