83 Years Later, Hawaiian Still Growing for Hawaii: Anniversary of First Flight in 1929 this Sunday

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Some early flights to Kona on the S-38 aircraft would land in Kealakekua Bay, where passengers were met by canoe and Honolulu newspapers delivered for area residents.

REPORT FROM HAWAIIAN AIRLINES – This Sunday, November 11, Hawai‘i’s hometown airline and the pioneering carrier of the Pacific, Hawaiian Airlines will mark its 83rd anniversary of continuous service in Hawai‘i.

“We take great pride in being ‘Hawai‘i’s airline’ and the distinguished place our company holds in aviation history is a tribute to our hard-working employees and loyal customers,” said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO. “After 83 years, Hawaiian is becoming a global carrier, and one that remains comprehensively focused on Hawai‘i. As we continue building on this legacy of service to our islands, we owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have made this milestone possible.”


Hawai‘i’s introduction to the age of commercial air transportation began on November 11, 1929, when the inaugural flight of Inter-Island Airways (renamed Hawaiian Airlines in 1941) departed from John Rodgers Field (now Honolulu International Airport) bound for Hilo with thousands looking on.

The Sikorsky S-38 amphibian biplane, one of only two in the new fleet, was filled to capacity that day with eight passengers and two crewmembers. With a top cruising speed of 110 MPH, the inaugural flight took more than three hours to complete, which included a stopover on Maui. The first flight to Kaua‘i took place the next day and soon all the islands were receiving air service on a regular basis.

In 1930, its first full year of operations, the new airline carried more than 10,000 passengers – a total that Hawaiian today exceeds daily – and the growing company soon began adding newer, larger, and more aircraft and hiring more employees to improve its quality of service for Hawai‘i, a commitment that is ongoing.

Today, Hawaiian is the largest it has ever been with more flights to more destinations, more aircraft and more employees than at any other time in its history. The airline currently operates more than 200 flights daily serving 11 gateway cities in North America, six in Asia, two in the South Pacific, and one in Oceania with new services planned for Brisbane, Australia (November 27) and Auckland, New Zealand (March 13, 2013). Continued growth into new and existing markets outside Hawai‘i is planned.

Dunkerley noted, “Our long term plan is focused on expansion into markets that have the greatest potential for growth in visits to Hawai‘i, and we look forward to bringing many more visitors to our islands in the months and years ahead as we continue to expand our operations and carry the Hawai‘i brand to more places.”

In keeping with its continuing growth, Hawaiian has hired more than 500 new employees in 2012 and now has a total workforce of 4,816. The company plans to add another 300 new operational and administrative positions in 2013.

Hawaiian currently operates a fleet of 43 aircraft, comprised of 25 wide-body 294-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft and wide-body 264-seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft for transpacific flights, and 18 narrow-body 123-seat Boeing 717-200 aircraft for Neighbor Island flights.

As part of its long-range fleet renewal and expansion plan, Hawaiian will take delivery of 13 new A330s between 2013 and 2015, bringing to 22 the total number of A330s in its fleet.

Hawaiian’s new A330s are more fuel-efficient and have a longer operating range than its fleet of Boeing 767-300 aircraft, giving Hawaiian the capability to open new nonstop routes between Hawai‘i and points throughout North America and eastern Asia.

Starting in 2017 Hawaiian will begin welcoming the first of six next-generation, longer-range A350XWB-800 aircraft into its fleet, which will enable further growth into more distant international markets.  Hawaiian’s A350s will seat more than 300 passengers in a two-class configuration and have a range of 8,300 nautical miles, allowing Hawaiian to fly nonstop between Hawai‘i and virtually any viable tourism source market around the world.

Hawaiian has led all U.S. carriers in on-time performance for each of the past eight years (2004-2011) as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Consumer surveys by Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Zagat have all ranked Hawaiian the highest of all domestic airlines serving Hawai‘i.

Now in its 83rd year of continuous service, Hawaiian is Hawai‘i’s biggest and longest-serving airline, as well as the largest provider of passenger air service from its primary visitor markets on the U.S. mainland. Hawaiian offers nonstop service to Hawai‘i from more U.S. gateway cities (11) than any other airline, along with service from Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, American Samoa, and Tahiti. New nonstop service will begin between Honolulu and Brisbane, Australia (November 27, 2012), and Auckland, New Zealand (March 13, 2013). Hawaiian also provides approximately 170 daily jet flights between the Hawaiian Islands.