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Report: United scaling back DC nonstop service

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HONOLULU (AP) — United Airlines has decided to cut back its nonstop service between Hawaii and Washington, D.C., from daily to once a week at the end of the summer, a TV station reported.

Airlines typically do not announce cutbacks. The information was simply fed into the reservations computer network used by travel agents, Hawaii News Now (http://is.gd/2lTG7V ) reported Monday.

United told The Associated Press the cutback will last from Aug. 27 to Dec 18, with flights on Saturday only in each direction. The service will return to daily on Dec 19, the airline said.

"The reductions are during a traditionally slower travel period when there is less demand," Mary Clark of United media relations, said in an email.

David Uchiyama, vice president for brand management at the Hawaii Tourism Authority, plans to meet this week with United executives in Chicago to discuss the issue.

"We are very sensitive about keeping and improving our connectivity not just for tourism but for our residents, as well as helping develop other commerce," Uchiyama said in an email to Hawaii News Now.

Uchiyama was in Atlanta on Monday for meetings at Delta Air Lines headquarters.

The move by United came just days after Allegiant Travel decided to end all but two of its new Hawaii routes at the end of the summer, describing the others as seasonal. Only the Las Vegas and Bellingham, Wash., routes will remain.

The nation's capital has traditionally been a good source of Hawaii visitors, in part because more than 100,000 military personnel in Washington, D.C., have Hawaii ties after deployments in the islands.

United flies more seats to Hawaii than most carriers. It is developing Big Island tourism with flights from Los Angeles International Airport to Hilo. They are the only direct West Coast flights to the volcano side of the Big Island.

Hawaii air connections are increasingly vulnerable to cutbacks if planes don't carry enough passengers, so Hawaii officials are working with airlines to aid business.

United's daily nonstop flights from Washington Dulles Airport have routinely been more than 70 percent full. But airlines operate on tight margins, with jet fuel bills often exceeding payroll, and one or two full-price seats can make the difference between profit and loss on a flight, the TV station said.

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Information from: KHNL-TV, http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/

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