Aloha NZ

What Hawai­ian’s big plans mean for trav­ellers

The New Zealand Herald - - BUSINESS - Grant Bradley avi­a­tion

Hawai­ian Air­lines will boost its New Zealand service to five flights a week be­tween Auck­land and Honolulu next March, a move likely to push fares down fur­ther on the in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive route.

The air­line has for the past four years flown three times a week and from next March will sub­stan­tially boost ca­pac­ity. Most of its traf­fic is Ki­wis fly­ing north­bound to Hawaii but it said its south­bound loads from the United States main­land and Hawaii were also healthy.

Hawai­ian’s pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive, Mark Dunker­ley, said that he couldn’t talk about fares yet but the cost of travel to Hawaii had fallen since his air­line had en­tered the mar­ket and he ex­pected more “good value” fares as with the ex­tra seats.

Air New Zealand has stepped up its flights to Hawaii since Hawai­ian en­tered the mar­ket and last month an­nounced a boost to flights next win­ter.

In­tense com­pe­ti­tion has seen fares be­tween Auck­land and Honolulu fall­ing from around $2000 four years ago to as low as $699.

Dunker­ley said he was sat­is­fied there would be suf­fi­cient de­mand for the big in­crease in seats on the route next year.

While there was grow­ing com­pe­ti­tion from other des­ti­na­tions, such as Thai­land and Bali, as ser­vices from New Zealand in­creased, Hawaii was still good value for Kiwi hol­i­day­mak­ers, he said.

The air­line would first bed down the new five­times-a-week service but could in­crease it to daily if de­mand was suf­fi­cient.

Hawai­ian’s new A321­neo air­craft start ar­riv­ing in its fleet from next month and these will be used on ser­vices from Hawaii to the United States main­land, which could free up more planes to fly fur­ther afield on other routes.

Fig­ures from the Hawai­ian Tourism Author­ity show the num­ber of Kiwi vis­i­tors to the state in­creased by more than 6 per cent to more than 27,000 in the first six months of this year, con­tin­u­ing strong growth since 2013.

In the year be­fore the launch by Hawai­ian Air­lines, fewer than 26,000 New Zealand trav­ellers vis­ited the state, ac­cord­ing to author­ity fig­ures.

Fol­low­ing Hawai­ian’s en­try, vis­i­tor ar­rivals from Auck­land nearly dou­bled to more than 50,000 in 2013 and topped 60,000 for the third straight year in 2016.

Air New Zealand an­nounced last month it would op­er­ate an ex­tra 94 re­turn ser­vices next win­ter, mov­ing to daily flights and up to nine ser­vices per week dur­ing the busy July school hol­i­day pe­riod. That will add al­most 60,000 more Air New Zealand seats be­tween Auck­land and Honolulu from April to Oc­to­ber next year, an in- crease of 75 per cent from this year.

Un­der Hawai­ian’s new sched­ule, start­ing March 21, flights will de­part Auck­land at 11.55pm Wed­nes­day through to Sun­day, ar­riv­ing in Honolulu at 9.45am on the same day. Flights from Honolulu to Auck­land will de­part at 2:05pm Tues­day through to Saturday, ar­riv­ing at 10pm the fol­low­ing day.

In 2016, more than 15,000 Hawai­ian Air­lines’ pas­sen­gers ar­riv­ing in Honolulu from Auck­land con­tin­ued on to the main­land United States or to an is­land other than Oahu.

On the Auck­land route Hawai­ian flies A330s which have been fit­ted with lie-flat seat­ing in the premium cabin and more ex­tra com­fort seats.

Dunker­ley said his air­line had ex­pe­ri­enced strong de­mand for its premium seats from leisure trav­ellers.

Mark Dunker­ley be­lieves there will be enough de­mand to meet the in­crease in seats on the route to Hawaii.

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