Hawaiian Airlines is streamlining their 717 cabins – Photo: Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines is now the second-largest operator of Boeing 717s in the world — with a fleet of 18 (tied with QantasLink — Delta is number one). Even though it is a smaller fleet, the airline operates five different configurations of the aircraft type, which they use to fly inter-island.
To simplify, the airline has decided to standardize each aircraft with 128 new seats and also update some of the design elements of the cabin.
“These new, modern design elements rejuvenate the interiors of our Boeing 717s while allowing us to deliver a consistent onboard experience for our guests,” said Peter Ingram, chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines.
A Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 in Maui – Photo: Ben Granucci
When it comes to places with an abundance of short-haul flying, it is hard to beat Hawaii. Many of the islands are small enough not to have all of the essential services that their residents may need, though within the chain of islands they are available. And in a place where tourism is the number one industry, there must be a way for visitors to access the majority of the state, even though the vast majority of flights to and from the islands arrive at a single airport.
Many island chains have ferry service, however in Hawaii that service remarkably doesn’t exist today. A short-lived high-speed ferry system that opened several years ago took hours to transit the roughly 100 mile distance between Oahu and Maui. It closed after a judge ruled that the permitting process was flawed and the operator went bankrupt. Inter-island flying is now the only way to go.
In Hawaii, flying is king and competition is fierce. The last decade has seen both the entry of new carriers into the marketplace and some high-profile failures. Historically, there were two tiers of airlines providing service between the islands: large commercial airlines that flew to both the mainland and to major airports within the state, and commuter airlines that linked the major airports with smaller outlying airports. However in the last ten years, those lines have become blurred. Today, the air transport industry in the state finds itself in a state of flux.
Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330s at the terminal in Honolulu – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com
Getting to New Zealand from the United States is a very limited affair. The only way to get there directly is with Air New Zealand and at some times of the year (around Christmas, especially) capacity becomes limited due to operating only three daily flights (two from LAX, one from SFO).
More recently a new choice was offered to New Zealand; Hawaiian Airlines flying from Honolulu (HNL) to Auckland (AKL). The new flights started in March and they fly three times a week between the two cities.
Using their new Airbus A330-200 aircraft, Hawaiian’s service to the south Pacific allows one-stop service from a number of west coast cities (although all cities, apart from Seattle, require an overnight stay in Honolulu when southbound). After I had flown down to Hawaii from Seattle and spent a brief two hours in the warmth that permeates Honolulu airport, it was time to board another Hawaiian aircraft for my journey to New Zealand.
Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 receiving a nice farewell. Photo from Hawaiian Airlines.
This past week, Hawaiian Airlines launched another new route to its network: Honolulu to Auckland, New Zealand. The new service will use their 294-seat Airbus A330-200.
The new service will be three days a week; Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Honolulu (HA 445) and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from Auckland (HA 446). This new route makes Hawaiian the only US carrier to serve Auckland.
“We have been delighted by the interest in our new service, both here at home and in New Zealand,” said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO. “The deep cultural connections between our islands and the islands of Aotearoa make New Zealand a natural destination for Hawaiian and for our singular brand of authentic Hawaiian hospitality.”
Hawaiian Dancers celebrate the New Zealand flight. Photo from Hawaiian Airlines.
“The United States is a vital market for New Zealand leisure and business travel, and is a key focus for our marketing efforts given the significant potential for growth that exists,” Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive Kevin Bowler stated.
This is the first of three new services announced to launch this year, along with Sendai, Japan and Taipei, Taiwan. In the last couple of years the airline’s aggressive expansion has included numerous routes to Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Tahiti, American Samoa and increased service to Australia.
The inaugural flight of HA 445 was celebrated with gate side festivities that included Hawaiian music and hula, a performance honoring the Maori culture and a traditional Hawaiian blessing
Hawaiian Airlines Maori Dancers during inaugural celebration. Photo from Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines has also announced that it plans to move up its Portland to Honolulu Airbus A330-200 launch date as it is taking earlier than expected delivery of new aircraft. The route is currently flown using a Boeing 767. Portland can now expect the A330 to start service on April 20th, which is about three weeks early.
The airline has been in the process of replacing their aging Boeing 767-300’s and has also announced orders for the Airbus A321neo as they continue their rapid expansion across the Pacific.
||This story written by…Brandon Farris, Correspondent.
Brandon is an avid aviation geek based in Seattle. He got started in Photography and Reporting back in 2010. He loves to travel where ever he has to to cover the story and try to get the best darn shot possible.
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