Hawaiian Airlines will start direct flights between Auckland and Honolulu from March, becoming the only US carrier to fly to New Zealand.
In May, Air New Zealand announced a 50 per cent increase in capacity on Auckland-Honolulu, from twice to three times a week.
The American airline said market research indicated that Hawaii was an under-served market for New Zealand.
Kiwi passengers will also be able to take connecting flights to Hawaii's other islands and 11 mainland US destinations including Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, the airline said.
"New Zealanders are avid travellers and we believe the introduction of new nonstop flights with our winning brand of service will be welcomed in meeting pent-up demand for a Hawaii vacation," said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's president and CEO.
"At the same time, our new service will offer Hawaii residents easy access to the natural wonders and Maori culture of New Zealand."
Tourism figures showed there were currently 30 per cent fewer visitor arrivals coming from New Zealand than in 1999 when more non-stop flights were offered between the two destinations.
Hawaiian's new service will add more than 40,000 seats annually between Auckland and Honolulu.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler welcomed the announcement as a significant step in improving visitor arrivals from the United States and strengthening relations between the two countries.
"The United States is a vital market for New Zealand leisure and business travel, and is a key focus for our marketing efforts given the significant potential for growth that exists. The ability to connect through Hawaii will provide a critical link for converting those considering travel into actual bookings," he said.
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- © Fairfax NZ News
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