Kiwis 'fall in love' with Hawaii

Last updated 05:00 14/04/2014

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Tough competition between Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines has doubled the number of passengers flying to Honolulu.

A year after breaking Air New Zealand's monopoly on the route, Hawaiian Airline's chief executive Mark Dunkerley said the airline had "undoubtedly" helped improve tourism flows to New Zealand.

Hawaiian Airlines had aggressively marketed New Zealand as a premium destination to Americans and forced Air New Zealand to increase capacity and decrease airfares, Dunkerley said.

"They are a terrific competitor too, and in the end, it is the New Zealand and American consumers who win, because Hawaii has come back onto the radar of Kiwi travellers and American tourists have other options to get down to New Zealand," Dunkerley said.

Statistics New Zealand figures showed that since the start of Hawaiian Airlines' three times weekly service out of Auckland the number of Kiwis jetting off to Hawaii more than doubled to 39,000 in 2013 from 17,000 in 2012, despite Hawaiian Airlines only starting its service in March last year.

"Our entry has clearly had an impact and gives New Zealanders options, not only to Hawaii, but also through to the US mainland, where we can offer a less burdensome connection than Los Angeles," Dunkerley said.

House of Travel retail director Brent Thomas said the arrival of Hawaiian Airlines in New Zealand meant the end of a monopoly route and offered travellers from New Zealand another option to fly into the US mainland.

"New Zealanders fell in love with Hawaii last year.

"We saw 100 per cent growth on the route, where it had been off the radar for a long time."

Thomas said the average airfare had fallen and the strong New Zealand dollar had attracted the mass market, without a decrease in the demand for South Pacific holidays.

"New Zealanders are now tacking on a Hawaiian stopover on a holiday to New York or San Francisco," Thomas said.

Hawaiian Airlines said it was looking to increase services when seasonal markets were better understood.

The carrier will introduce its new low frills premium economy seats on the route in August for which it will charge about $120 more than a one way standard economy seat.

This is significantly cheaper than Air New Zealand's full service premium economy. Fairfax NZ

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