Hawaiian Airlines flying direct to Auckland three times a week
BUSINESSDESK: Hawaiian Airlines will start flying non-stop between Auckland and Honolulu three times a week from March 14 next year.
Hawaiian will become the only US carrier to fly to New Zealand.
While it primarily targets the leisure market, the wide-body Boeing 767-300ER aircraft it will use include 18 business class seats among their total 264 seats.
The service will add more than 40,000 seats each way annually between the two cities.
Auckland International Airport said all passengers flying on Hawaiian will be entitled to a free checked baggage allowance of two items, each weighing up to 32 kilos, “one of the most generous checked baggage allowances in the airline industry”.
Hawaiian also flies to the Maui, Kauai and Hawaii islands and 11 destinations on the US mainland, including Las Vegas, New York and San Jose.
It also flies to Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Sapporo in Japan, to Seoul in South Korea and to Brisbane.
“Hawaii is a very popular holiday spot for many Kiwis,” Glenn Wedlock, the airport's commercial aeronautical general manager, said.
“We think the dual destination combination of Hawaii and New Zealand offers exciting inbound leisure options for mainland US visitors. Hawaiian is growing and we look forward to working with the airline and its partners on this new service.”
Hawaiian president and chief executive Mark Dunkerley said the new service will meet “pent-up demand for a Hawaii vacation” as well as offering Hawaii residents “easy access to the natural wonders and Maori culture of New Zealand”.
The airline's research shows 30% fewer visitor arrivals in Hawaii coming from New Zealand than in 1999, when more non-stop flights were offered between the two cities, he said.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler says the US is a vital leisure and business market and “convenient air links are critical for converting those considering travel into actual bookings”.
The new service's timing is ideal because the release of the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey “will heighten interest in New Zealand and no doubt whet Americans' appetite for travel here”, he said.
Auckland Airport shares fell 0.4% to $2.51 in trading today. The stock is rated an average "hold", according to a consensus of 10 analysts' recommendations compiled by Reuters, with a median target price of $2.66.