State briefs for April 10

Game in Hawaii highlights NFL preseason schedule

NEW YORK — The first NFL exhibition game in Hawaii in 43 years highlights the league’s preseason schedule announced Tuesday.

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Dallas will play the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 17 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. The last preseason match there featured the 49ers and Chargers in 1976.

The Raiders, who are set to move to Las Vegas in 2020, have two preseason home games, though the one against Green Bay in Week 3 has an “undetermined site.” The Oakland Athletics are scheduled to play that weekend at the stadium the teams share.

Atlanta and Denver face off in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 1 in Canton, Ohio, to open the preseason.

Among the intriguing matchups, even if most starters won’t play much, are the Saints and Drew Brees taking on his former team, the Chargers, on Aug. 18; the Eagles at the Jaguars, whose new quarterback is Nick Foles; and New England at Tennessee, where former Patriots star linebacker (and occasional pass receiver) Mike Vrabel is head coach.

The final preseason games will be played Aug. 29 or 30. The regular season opens Sept. 5, with Green Bay at Chicago to start the league’s 100th season.

Kalihi brush fire under control

HONOLULU — A brush fire above Kalihi Valley Homes on Sunday in Honolulu burned about 15 acres of land but did not reach residences, according to firefighters.

No injuries were reported and no evacuations ordered, said Homolulu Fire Department Capt. Scot Seguirant.

The blaze, first reported about noon, was 95 percent contained by 8 p.m., he said.

“It did get kind of close to the homes, but that part is out. What’s left burning is at the top of the ridge,” Seguirant said Sunday evening.

The steep terrain surrounding the area presented a challenge to firefighters on the ground and prompted fire officials to call in water drops via the Fire Department’s Air 1 helicopter, Seguirant said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Southwest Hawaii causes 17 percent fare drop from California

LOS ANGELES — Since Southwest Airlines began flying from California to Hawaii last month, the average airfare among all carriers flying between the two states has dropped 17 percent compared with the same time last year, according to a new analysis.

The Dallas-based low-cost carrier launched service from Oakland to Honolulu on March 17, with introductory one-way coach fares as low as $49. Those fares now range from about $300-$600, depending on the day of departure.

Southwest announced additional routes, starting with Oakland to Maui on Sunday, with additional service from San Jose to Honolulu on May 5 and to Maui on May 26. Still more service, including from San Diego, is expected to be firmed up soon.

Since Southwest began to challenge the established major airlines in the 1990s, the low-cost carrier has become so well known for forcing competitors to reduce fares that industry insiders dubbed it the “Southwest Effect.”

An analysis of fares by the travel booking site Kayak found average fares offered by all carriers from California to Honolulu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island have dropped by 17 percent in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year.

The average round-trip coach fare from California to Hawaii in the first half of 2019 hovered near $412, down from about $501 in the year-earlier period, according to the Kayak analysis.

Madhu Unnikrishnan, editor of “Skift Airline Weekly,” said Southwest launched the Hawaii service with low introductory fares, which pushed down all prices significantly. He predicted the average fare to Hawaii from California will edge back up slightly in the next few weeks, especially as bigger carriers begin to offer higher-priced spots to Hawaii with roomier seats and extra perks.

“Everyone was running a bit scared when Southwest started to launch its service to Hawaii and they had to preemptively drop prices,” he said. “It will shake out in the next few months.”

A Southwest Airlines representative declined to comment on the Kayak data, saying federal law prohibits carriers from discussing future airfares.

But Southwest Airlines spokesman Brad Hawkins said: “In general terms, we entered the Hawaii marketplace to do what we do — lower fares, stimulate traffic and raise the level of customer service that our fans and loyalists don’t tie to so-called premium services, but rather to comfort and value for all.”

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Hawaiian Airlines, the largest carrier in the state of Hawaii, would not acknowledge that Southwest has had an impact on fares.

“Fares fluctuate daily and seasonally in the airline industry,” said Tara Shimooka, Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman, in a statement. “Hawaiian Airlines competes with all the largest U.S. carriers, and we strive to offer our guests the greatest value through competitive pricing year-round as well as our superior product and Hawaiian hospitality.”

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