Travelers in Northwestern Washington and Vancouver B.C. will have a new way to reach Hawaii next year when Alaska Airlines starts nonstop service between Bellingham and Honolulu.

Travelers in Northwestern Washington and Vancouver B.C. will have a new way to reach Hawaii next year when Alaska Airlines starts nonstop service between Bellingham and Honolulu.

The news is a boost for the expanding Bellingham International Airport, ranked recently in a survey by Cheapflights.com as having the cheapest overall average fares among 101 U.S. airports for domestic flights.

Seattle-based Alaska said it will inaugurate nonstop service starting January 7 with a daily flight between Bellingham and Honolulu at 5:20 p.m. and a return flight at 10:25 p.m. The flights will be operated with Boeing 737-800 aircraft, accommodating 16 passengers in first class and 141 in the main cabin.

“It’s really great news for folks in and around the Bellingham area,” said Art Choat, Bellingham’s director of aviation. “It makes life a whole lot easier for anyone going to Hawaii.”

Bellingham is a popular starting point for Vancouver travelers. Estimates are that about 55 percent of Bellingham’s business comes from Canadians.

Many, said Choat, are attracted by the ease of crossing the border by car, and catching a flight in the U.S., rather than dealing with the hassles of airport international arrivals and departures. They also can often get lower fares.

Discounter Allegiant Air offers 54 flights per week between Bellingham and Las Vegas, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Palm Springs, Phoenix and San Diego. Alaska also flies nonstop to Las Vegas,

A $30 million airport terminal expansion is scheduled to start next month. When complete, the Bellingham airport will be able to handle 500,000 passengers per year, compared to 370,00 now.

Choat said he expects more announcements of increased service in the next three months.

Carol Pucci: cpucci@seattletimes.com