Hand color tinted photo of a Hawaiian Airlines DC-3 in flight, 1955
Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. is the flag carrier and largest airline of Hawaii. It is the 11th largest commercial airline in the country, based in Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii. The airline operates its main hub at Honolulu International Airport and a secondary hub out of Kahului Airport on the island of Maui. Hawaiian Airlines is owned by Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HA). Mark Dunkerley is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Hawaiian Holdings.
Hawaiian has never had a fatal accident in its entire history, nor has it ever had an accident with a hull loss, and is the oldest US carrier with such a distinction in both fields. Hawaiian Airlines was the number one on-time carrier in the United States from November 2003 until November 2006, when rival Aloha Airlines took the number one spot, pushing Hawaiian to a close second. The airline has also frequently been number one in fewest cancellations, baggage handling, and fewest oversales. Hawaiian Airlines has been rated the best carrier serving Hawaii by Travel + Leisure, Zagat, and Condé Nast Traveler.
Early years (1929–1966)
Inter-Island Airways, the forerunner of the airline which is now known as Hawaiian Airlines, was incorporated on January 30, 1929. Inter-Island Airways, a subsidiary of Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company, began operations on October 6, 1929 with a Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, providing short sightseeing flights over Oahu. Scheduled service began a month later on November 11 using Sikorsky S-38s with a flight from Honolulu to Hilo, via intermediary stops on Molokai and Maui.
On October 1, 1941, the name was changed to Hawaiian Airlines when the company phased out the older Sikorsky S-38 and Sikorsky S-43 flying boats.
Jet age and route expansion (1966–1994)
In 1966 jet travel started with the acquisition of Douglas DC-9 aircraft, which cut travel times in half on most of the routes. In 1984 the company began to operate charter services to the South Pacific using Douglas DC-8 aircraft, and soon added Lockheed L-1011 aircraft to the fleet for West Coast services. As the west coast market grew, the South Pacific market shrunk, and service was reduced when the company’s DC-8s were retired in 1993; and when the L-1011s were replaced by the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 in 1994. According to State of Hawaii historical records, Hawaiian also constructed the Kapalua Airport in 1987 on the western side of Maui. The airline served this small airfield with de Havilland Dash 7 four engine turboprops. Kapalua Airport was acquired by the state in 1993, and Hawaiian discontinued service to the airport with the retirement of the Dash 7 fleet in 1994. The retirement of the Dash 7 in 1994 also resulted in the airline operating an all-jet fleet.
Aircraft equipment change (1994–2003)
The DC-10s were obtained from American Airlines, who continued to provide maintenance on the aircraft. An agreement with American also included converting to American’s SABRE reservation system and participation in American Airlines’ AAdvantage frequent flyer program. The DC-10s were retired between 2002 and 2003. The company replaced these leased DC-10s with 14 leased Boeing 767 aircraft during the fleet modernization, and replaced the DC-9s with Boeing 717 aircraft.
Hawaiian Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 21, 2003 with operations still continuing, and at the time was overdue for $4.5 million USD worth of payments to the pilots’ pension plan. Within the company, it was suggested that the plan be terminated. As of May 2005, Hawaiian Airlines had received court approval of its reorganization plan. The company emerged from bankruptcy protection on June 2, 2005, with reduced operating costs through renegotiated contracts with its union work groups; restructured aircraft leases; and investment from RC Aviation, a unit of San Diego-based Ranch Capital, which bought a majority share in parent company Hawaiian Holdings Inc in 2004.
Further expansion (2005–2012)
On October 1, 2005 Hawaiian Airlines began nonstop daily flights from Honolulu to San Jose, California. This made San Jose the fifth gateway city in California to be serviced by Hawaiian; the others were Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco.
On May 4, 2006 Hawaiian Airlines announced expanded service between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii in anticipation of the induction of four additional Boeing 767–300 aircraft, primarily focused on expanding non-stop service to Kahului Airport from San Diego, Seattle, and Portland. Additional flights were also added between Honolulu and the cities of Sacramento, Seattle and Los Angeles.
On July 24, 2007 Hawaiian Airlines and Air New Zealand signed a $45 million contract for Air New Zealand to perform heavy maintenance on Hawaiian’s Boeing 767 aircraft. The contract is to last for five years. Air New Zealand stated that this opportunity will also give a chance for them to build their expertise working on 767s.
On August 27, 2007 the airline announced plans to launch flights to Manila in the Philippines. Hawaiian Airlines said it will begin nonstop service to the Philippines in March 2008, in the first major international expansion since it emerged from bankruptcy protection in June 2005. In response to the closure of ATA Airlines and Aloha Airlines, the airline announced new flights to Oakland beginning on May 1, 2008.
In August 2007 the Seattle Seahawks announced that they would be flying on Hawaiian Airlines for the upcoming National Football League seasons. This marks the second team that Hawaiian Airlines will be flying. The Oakland Raiders of the NFL have also been flying Hawaiian Airlines since the 1990s. The two teams fly on Hawaiian’s Boeing 767s to and from all their games. Two of Hawaiian’s Boeing 767 aircraft have been fitted with decals of logos from the Seahawks and the Raiders.
In late 2009 Hawaiian airlines began to install winglets on their existing 767-300s to cut fuel costs.
On February 16, 2010, Hawaiian Airlines announced that they will seek approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin nonstop flights from its hub at Honolulu to Tokyo-Haneda sometime in 2010. The airline is one of the 5 US carriers (the others being Delta, Continental (until it merged with United), United, and American) seeking approval to serve Haneda as part of the U.S.-Japan OpenSkies agreement. Approval was granted from USDOT to begin nonstop service to Haneda, Japan. The flight began service on November 18, 2010. In addition, the airline is planning to establish a codeshare agreement with All Nippon Airways.
On June 30, 2010, Hawaiian Airlines announced they would begin nonstop service to Seoul-Incheon, South Korea. Flights began on January 12, 2011.
On February 14, 2011, Hawaiian announced that it will add Osaka, Japan to its network, with flights beginning July 12, 2011.
On March 31, 2011, Hawaiian announced that they will be renovating the check-in lobby of the inter-island terminal at the Honolulu International Airport (Hawaiian’s main hub). Hawaiian, the only occupant of the inter-island terminal, will be removing the traditional check-in counter, to install six circular check-in islands in the middle of the lobbies. Those check-in islands can be used for inter-island, mainland, and international flights.
On September 13, 2011, Hawaiian announced that it will continue its expansion in Asia by adding Fukuoka, Japan to its network, with flights beginning April 16, 2012 pending approval from the Japanese government.
On November 16, 2011, Hawaiian announced that it will expand to the east coast with daily flights to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport beginning on June 4, 2012.
On November 17, 2011, Airbus and Hawaiian announced that they had signed a firm order for five additional Airbus A330-200.
On May 9, 2012, Hawaiian announced that it will expand in Japan with a route to Sapporo. This will be Hawaiian’s fourth destination in Japan. Hawaiian plans to begin this route on November 1, 2012, pending government approval.
On June 19, 2012, Hawaiian announced service to the airline’s second destination in Australia, with flights to Brisbane Airport beginning November 27, 2012.
On July 16, 2012, the airline announced that it will start flights to Auckland beginning March 2013. This will make Hawaiian the only US carrier to fly to New Zealand.
On August 30, 2012, Hawaiian filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation for a nonstop route between Kona and Tokyo-Haneda. This would fill a void that Japan Airlines left when it ceased service to Kona nearly two years ago. However, the US Department of Transportation rejected the airline’s application to begin service.
On December 3, 2012, the airline announced it plans to begin flights to Taipei, Taiwan (Republic of China) beginning July 9, 2013 as part of its aggressive expansion plans.
Further fleet expansion and new subsidiary carrier (2013-present)
On February 11, 2013, the airline announced the name of its new venture into the turboprop interisland business. “Ohana by Hawaiian” will be operated by Empire Airlines using ATR 42 Turboprop airplanes. Service will begin in Summer 2013 to Molokai and Lanai.
On February 14, 2013, Hawaiian announced service to the airline’s fifth destination in Japan, with flights to Sendai Airport beginning June 25, 2013.