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A History of Hawaiian Airlines

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Hawaii's largest airline since its founding in 1929, Hawaiian Airlines today serves 20 domestic and international destinations in the Pacific region. It specializes in air transportation among the Hawaiian Islands and bringing visitors to Hawaii from points in the Western U.S. and the South Pacific.

Carrying an average of 6 million passengers a year, Hawaiian Airlines provides high-frequency jet service daily to 8 destinations throughout the Hawaiian Islands and regular service to the South Pacific destinations of Tahiti, American Samoa and Sydney, Australia. In North America it provides daily service to Hawaii from more cities than any other airline.

Inter-Island's amphibious Sikorsky S-38 sitting in the Pacific OceanA pioneer of Pacific aviation, Hawaiian Airlines was incorporated on January 30, 1929 under the name Inter-Island Airways Ltd. On November 11 that same year, thousands gathered at Honolulu's John Rodgers Airport to witness the departure of Hawaii's first scheduled interisland flights: Inter-Island's inaugural flights to Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii. Two eight-passenger Sikorsky S-38 amphibian planes thus began three weekly round trips between these destinations.

Inter-Island's larger Sikorsky S-43s flying over a mountain range

The airline continued to modernize its fleet as aviation technology advanced. In 1935, larger 16-passenger Sikorsky S-43s were added to accommodate increased traffic and newly authorized interisland airmail service.

Hawaiian Airlines DC-3 flying over Hawaii In 1941 Inter-Island changed its name to Hawaiian Airlines and introduced the 24-passenger DC-3 into Hawaiian skies. This "workhorse" of the piston era was the mainstay of the airline's fleet for many years. It became vital during wartime operations when all interisland traffic was placed under military control. Granted the very first air cargo certificate issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board, Hawaiian Airlines provided an aerial lifeline to Hawaii's Neighbor Islands during World War II.

The advent of commercial jet service in the 1960s resulted in increased air traffic to and from Hawaii. Hawaiian grew to accommodate the travel needs of a growing residential population as well as an expanding visitor industry. In 1966 the airline brought to Hawaii its first pure jet interisland aircraft, the McDonnell Douglas DC-9. Travel time between the islands was reduced to a mere 20 to 30 minutes. The DC-9 remains the backbone of Hawaiian's mixed interisland fleet; Hawaii's best answer to the travel needs of residents and visitors alike.

Hawaiian Airlines first commercial jet, the DC-9, flying through the cloudsIn 1984 Hawaiian began to provide worldwide charter services with three long-range DC-8 jets. Soon after, scheduled service began to Pago Pago, American Samoa and Nuku'alofa, Tonga. A year later Hawaiian acquired five Lockheed L-1011 widebody aircraft for scheduled and charter service. June 12, 1985 marked the inauguration of Hawaiian Airlines' scheduled widebody jet service between the West Coast and Hawaii with daily flights to Los Angeles. Daily flights between Hawaii and San Francisco and Seattle started in January, 1986. Service to Western Samoa soon followed.

In 1987 Hawaiian expanded its South Pacific service by inaugurating flights to Tahiti, and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. South Pacific service was scaled back in 1993 with the retirement of DC-8 aircraft used on these routes.

Hawaiian Airlines next generation DC-8In 1990 the international travel and hospitality publication Condé Nast Traveler rated Hawaiian Airlines one of the world's safest airlines. In an exclusive 20 year study (August 1990 issue), Condé Nast noted that Hawaiian was one of only five U.S. carriers, along with four with relatively short histories, that had never had an air fatality in their entire histories. Eighteen years later, Hawaiian's record of safety continues unbroken.

In late 1993 Hawaiian Airlines entered into a series of marketing and service agreements with American Airlines' parent AMR Corporation. Consequently, Hawaiian in 1994 converted its reservations and operating computer system to American's SABRE system, became a participating carrier in American's AAdvantage® Travel Awards program and replaced its entire widebody fleet of Lockheed L-1011 aircraft with DC-10 aircraft provided and maintained by American.

In 2001, Hawaiian began a comprehensive fleet modernization program with the delivery of 13 new Boeing 717-200 aircraft that would completely replace its DC-9 fleet that year. In 2002 and 2003, the company finished the program with the complete replacement of its widebody DC-10 fleet with 14 Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. Hawaiian Airlines' fleet is now among the youngest in the industry.

Hawaiian has consistently been rated one of the "10 Best" U.S. airlines by Zagat Survey and readers of Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure, and most recently was rated the seventh best domestic carrier in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2005 Readers’ Choice Awards—higher than any other carrier serving Hawaii.

In another testament to the quality of Hawaiian Airlines' in-flight service, Condé Nast Traveler's Business Travel Awards for 2005 ranked Hawaii's biggest and longest-serving carrier as having the best meals in premium class nationwide.

Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717-200 flying over a beautiful ocean sky In addition to a consistently high rating by discriminating travelers, Hawaiian's service has won several international honors. "Hawaiian Skies," the company's onboard video program highlighting the people and culture of Hawaii, earned First Runner-Up at the World Airline Entertainment Association’s Avion Awards in 2004. In 2005, PAX International, one of the travel catering industry’s leading publications, awarded Hawaiian with Best Inflight Food Service – North America.

Hawaiian continues to build on an unbroken 79-year record of safety and to date has transported more than 145 million passengers.

Hawaiian is the only airline able to provide single-carrier service from the Western U.S. and the South Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. On board, passengers are surrounded with the gracious warmth unique to the people and culture of the Islands. Visitors to Hawaii are able to begin their vacation the moment they step on board a Hawaiian Airlines aircraft.

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