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Hawaiian Airlines celebrates 90 years of operations

written by WOFA | November 13, 2019

On November 11 1929, a new airline called Inter-Island Airways commenced scheduled passenger flights with a pair of Sikorsky S-38 amphibian aircraft flying from Honolulu to Hilo, Maui and Molokaʻi.

Over the following 90 years, the airline that would become known as Hawaiian Airlines expanded its network to the North American mainland, Asia and the South Pacific while continuing to maintain those essential inter-island air links.

To illustrate the point, Inter-Island Airways carried 13,043 passengers in 1930, its first full year of operations. In 2018, Hawaiian Airlines flew about 12 million passengers. That represented about 30,000 passengers a day, more than double the number carried in the whole of 1930.

“The foresight of our founder Stanley Kennedy to introduce Hawai‘i to commercial aviation forever changed the way we travel across our archipelago for leisure and business,” Hawaiian Airlines chief executive Peter Ingram said in a statement on Monday (US time).

“Today we honour Stan’s legacy and join with our employees to say ‘mahalo nui loa’ to our community and our guests in a fun and creative way.”

A cabin crew member dressed in a vintage uniform hands out copies of a 11 November 1929 edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
A Hawaiian Airlines cabin crew member dressed in a vintage uniform hands out copies of a 11 November 1929 edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. (Hawaiian Airlines)

To help celebrate the major milestone, Hawaiian Airlines gave the 128 passengers on board the Boeing 717 operating HA1111 from Honolulu to Maui on November 11 a quick history lesson on some of the airline’s greatest moments.

To begin, the cabin crew wore vintage uniforms dating from the 1960s to 1990s and handed out copies November 11 1929 edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, which heralded the start of the new flights with the headline “Inter-Island Air Service Starts”.


Passengers also heard how founder Stanley Kennedy got residents accustomed to flying by offering sightseeing flights over the island of O‘ahu aboard a six-passenger Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker prior to the launch of scheduled passenger flights. The Bellanca remains with the company and was used for flights for staff, their families and retirees.

And the start of flights helped cut down the travel time for Honolulu to Hilo from 14 hours using ships operated by the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company to three hours and 15 minutes by air with a stop in Maui on the Sikorsky and about an hour today with the 717. It was the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company that launched Inter-Island Airways.

To top off the surprise-and-delight experience, all passengers received a birthday present of 90,000 frequent flyer miles.

Chief executive Peter Ingram with cabin crew dressed in vintage uniforms.
Hawaiian Airlines chief executive Peter Ingram with cabin crew dressed in vintage uniforms. (Hawaiian Airlines)

Meanwhile, back on the ground at Honolulu’s Daniel K Inouye International Airport, a community event was held that raised US$33,000 the non-profit Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

This included a “plane pull” competition – something commonly held in the 1980s – involving 68 teams of 12 people pulling a 717 that weighed about 52,000kg.

The competition was eventually won by a team of the airline’s employees from Kahului Airport on Maui.

In this part of the world, Hawaiian serves Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney from its Honolulu hub with Airbus A330-200s. It also has a codeshare agreement with Virgin Australia.

VIDEO: Highlights of the Hawaiian’s 90th anniversary celebrations in a video supplied by the airline.


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