For more than 80 years, Hawaiian Airlines has stood proud as one of the oldest airlines in the world, representing the culture and spirit of Hawaii.
Hawaii’s largest airline began with its inaugural flight back on November 11, 1929 when it was known as Inter-Island Airways. This was the very first scheduled air service in Hawaii, with the initial flight taking off from John Rodgers Airport in Honolulu to Hilo making stops on Molokai and Maui.
On this fall day more than eight decades ago, there were thousands of people who attended the occasion, including Territorial Governor Lawrence M. Judd and his daughter Betty. So began the legacy of Hawaiian Airlines as the official scheduled air carrier. From its inaugural flight to Hilo and one to Kauai, it has expanded today to serve 20 domestic and international destinations in the Pacific, specializing in air transportation throughout the Hawaiian Islands as well as taking visitors to Hawaii from the Western United States and the South Pacific.
Its fleet began with just two eight-passenger Sikorsky S-38 amphibian planes and three round trips each week between Honolulu, Maui and The Big Island. As aviation technology advanced, the airline followed suit by adding the 16-passenger Sikorsky S-43s in 1935 to keep up with increasing traffic as well as the recently authorized inter-island airmail service.
It was in 1941 that the airline became Hawaiian Airlines as well as introducing the 24-passenger DC-3 into its fleet which became the backbone of the airline for many years. It was an essential “workhorse” during World War II when all inter-island traffic came under the control of the military – it provided a much-needed lifeline to Hawaii’s Neighbor Islands during the war.
In the 1960s, commercial jet service helped to increase air traffic to and from Hawaii, with the airline growing to meet the needs of the expanding tourist industry as well as for local residents. In 1966, the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 was brought in as the first pure jet interisland aircraft, becoming a mainstay of the interisland fleet then and today.
Worldwide services began in the 1980s with scheduled service to American Samoa, Pago Pago and Nuku’alofa, Tonga followed by daily flights between the west coast of the mainland to Hawaii as well as flights to and from Western Samoa and the South Pacific.
Hawaiian Airlines today
Hawaiian Airlines is frequently rated on a number of “Top Ten Best” lists for U.S. airlines and is also considered one of the safest in the world. It continues to build an unbroken 79-year safety record, transporting over 145 million passengers to date.
It is the only airline providing single-carrier service from the western states of the mainland and the South Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. The airline carries an average of six million passengers each year and offers nonstop service to Hawaii from more mainland U.S. cities than any other. It also provides more than 200 jet flights each day among the Hawaiian Islands as well as service to Australia, The Philippines, Tahiti, Korea and Japan.