Hawaiian Airlines Celebrates 80 Years

Airline continues to innovate

By: By Marty Wentzel

The Details

Hawaiian Airlines

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Most octogenarians start to slow down as they get older, but Hawaiian Airlines is hardly acting its age. If anything, the Honolulu-based carrier is getting increasingly inventive as it encourages mainland clients to travel to Hawaii while meeting the needs of island residents.

Fresh into 2010, Hawaiian set the tone for a year of innovative marketing. On Jan. 11, it launched Secret Island getaway fares, a short-term initiative encouraging travelers to book a winter trip by offering an e-certificate discount on its Web site. Clients can apply the discount when booking a roundtrip in either direction between any of Hawaiian’s 10 gateway cities in the Western U.S. and Kauai, Maui, Hawaii’s Big Island or Oahu. Since the offer applies to each island on a rotating basis for a limited time — the promotion is good for travel through March 11 — it encourages clients and their travel agents to check Hawaiian’s Web site daily to see which island is being featured. 

Hawaiian Airlines is celebrating 80 years of service in 2010. // (C) 2010 Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines is celebrating 80 years of service in 2010. // (C) 2010 Hawaiian Airlines

Travelers can save additional money by applying the Secret Island discount to current online promotional fares. The carrier is providing updates about the special fares and discounts via Twitter (@FlyHawaiian) and on its Facebook page (Facebook.com/FlyHawaiian), proof positive that even old-timers can be tech-savvy.

January also brought Hawaiian’s two-week Picture Yourself in Hawaii promotion, an effort to stimulate travel from Seattle to Hawaii. As part of an online trip giveaway contest, it created a “beachfront” window display in the city’s downtown district where passersby bundled up in winter clothing could take pictures of themselves enjoying the warmth and fun of Hawaii. Participants submitted their photos online, making them eligible to win one of four roundtrip tickets for two in a random drawing.

Strong Numbers, Good Deeds
As the nation’s largest provider of air service to Hawaii from the Western U.S. as well as the leading carrier for interisland service within the 50th state, Hawaiian posted some impressive numbers last year. Despite the economic downturn, it transported more passengers in 2009 than in any other of its 80 years of service, with a 6.2 percent increase in passengers compared to 2008.

Along with employing clever marketing to keep bookings up, Hawaiian has devoted itself to giving back to the community. In May 2009, the company presented a $150,000 cash and in-kind donation to Honolulu’s historic Bishop Museum. The gift includes the transporting of museum curators and teachers to schools and communities on the neighbor islands through 2010 in support of an educational outreach program.

The carrier has also partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii on a series of projects to help restore native Hawaiian habitats on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. Hawaiian is promoting the message of environmental conservation through its in-flight videos and other communication channels, and it has provided a $10,000 gift in support of the conservancy’s programs.

Other recent highlights for the carrier include the restoration and return of the company’s original airplane, a 1929 Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, to Hawaii; and the introduction of new employee uniforms with a contemporary print design linked to Hawaii’s culture and history.

Looking Ahead
As it enters its 81st year, Hawaiian plans to keep acting like an upstart carrier. In late April 2010, it will begin phasing in its next fleet of long-range aircraft with the arrival of its first Airbus A330-200 jet — 15 of which are on order or option — along with up to 12 extra-wide-body Airbus A350 aircraft that are scheduled to begin arriving in 2017.

At the Nov. 11, 2009, celebration of Hawaiian’s 80th anniversary, Hawaiian president Mark Dunkerley summed up the success of the airline.

“It is a credit to our dedicated employees and our loyal customers that we are able to celebrate Hawaiian’s rich 80-year history in aviation and envision a promising future as we work to continue growing and diversifying our service,” he said. “Hawaiian Airlines has been flying since essentially the dawn of commercial aviation and has weathered the turbulence of a stormy business over 80 years. That is a remarkable achievement in itself, considering all the iconic airlines in history that never reached this milestone.”