NEWS: Virgin America to Begin Flying Between US Mainland and Hawaii

Virgin America is adding Hawaii to its map with flights from San Francisco starting in November.

The airline said Tuesday that it will fly daily from San Francisco to Honolulu beginning Nov. 2 and to Kahului beginning Dec. 3.

United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Hawaiian Airlines already fly to Honolulu from San Francisco, and Alaska Airlines flies there from San Jose and Oakland, California. Southwest Airlines has long considered flying to Hawaii, although it has not announced any service.

Virgin America CEO David Cush said in an interview that Hawaii was “the big glaring hole” in his airline’s network from San Francisco.

While Virgin will face several rivals to Hawaii, Cush said routes between New York’s Kennedy Airport and both San Francisco and Los Angeles are even more competitive, “and we do just fine against five competitors in each of those.” He expects Hawaii flying to be profitable in about a year.

Virgin America Inc. still needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for the long over-water flights using 149-passenger Airbus A320 jets. The airline flies to 21 destinations on the U.S. mainland and Mexico, with its biggest markets in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Shares of the Burlingame, California-based airline rose 38 cents to $29.70 in afternoon trading.

 By DAVID KOENIG AP Airlines Writer