Hawaiian Airlines has launched its service between New Zealand and the Pacific holiday mecca with the first flight landing in Auckland last night.
The arrival of HA445 was greeted with Hawaiian music and hula, a performance honoring the Maori culture and a traditional Hawaiian blessing.
"We have been delighted by the interest in our new service," said Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's CEO. "The deep cultural connections between our islands and the islands of Aotearoa make New Zealand a natural destination."
Hawaiian Airlines becomes the only US carrier flying into Auckland. Hawaiian's research indicates that non-stop service will release pent-up demand in New Zealand for a Hawai'i vacation.
There are currently 30 percent fewer arrivals from New Zealand than in 1999.
Tourism New Zealand's Chief Executive Kevin Bowler said "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.
Tourism New Zealand, Hawaiian Airlines and Auckland Airport will be launching a new joint venture marketing campaign on next week, set to run for the next month for travellers from the West Coast of the USA to Auckland.''
Hawaiian Airlines' trans-Pacific and interisland route networks allow convenient connections throughout Hawai'i and in to 11 U.S. gateway destinations.
In celebration of the start of the service, Auckland's tourist landmark Sky Tower will be lit in Hawaiian Airlines colours for three nights.
Hawaiian Airlines is operating three flights a week between Honolulu and Auckland using a 294-seat A330-200 aircraft.
Auckland Airport's aeronautical GM Glenn Wedlock says it's great to say aloha to Hawaiian Airlines.
"It is fantastic to have such a significant US carrier help develop and stimulate markets to Hawaii and the mainland United States. The demand is certainly there and with holiday packages to Hawaii now around $1400 and airfares of $1599 to destinations such as Las Vegas or $1799 to New York. We forecast traffic doubling on the route.''