For the last couple years at least, Hilo has been the only major jet airport in Hawaii without direct airline flights to North America. Honolulu, of course, is served by all kinds of airlines. Most major US airlines also serve Kahului on Maui. American, Northwest and United serve Kona, across the island from Hilo, and even Lihue on Kauai gets flights from American and United. ATA also flies to Honolulu and Kahului.
Anyway, ATA just announced that they're going to start daily non-stops between Hilo and Oakland, California.
This presents a bit of a quandry. On the one hand, we've flown ATA before and they did a good enough job, and they're allied with Southwest, which is also reasonably priced, so they might be good for family trips. On the other hand, neither of them is allied with anybody else particularly useful when it comes to going overseas, so they're basically a non-starter for my world travel.
I'm hoping that other airlines (Northwest, are you listening?) will add direct flights between Hilo and the mainland as a result. (And honestly, I bet Hawaiian could easily 767s on routes like Honolulu-Kahului-Mainland, Honolulu-Kona-Mainland or Honolulu-Hilo-Mainland... it'd just undercut their inter-island flights somehwat.)