As we bid aloha to 2020 and reflect on the exceptional hardships and challenges it brought upon so many of us at Hawaiian Airlines, the year will forever stand out as a time when our ‘ohana proved what it means to be Hawaiʻi’s hometown carrier.
“What I want to remember from 2020 is how we distinguished ourselves as Hawai‘i’s airline despite, or even because of, the adversity we faced,” Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram told employees in a company message. “Let 2021 be our year of lōkahi (unity) and poʻokela (excellence). To recover and thrive again, we must succeed as a team and strive for excellence. Opportunity is everywhere: from your role, to your team, to our guests, to the broader planning and strategy work. Let’s keep finding opportunities to make this a healthy and bright new year.”
While last year presented our business and the airline industry with unprecedented obstacles, it was also a time of philanthropy, community engagement and innovation. We implemented enhanced cleaning procedures at every travel stage, added a new health form to our check-in process and began offering our guests convenient pre-travel COVID-19 testing options. And while we’ve adjusted our services, we still fly with the same award-winning ho‘okipa (hospitality) we’re known for.
On the ground, 1,510 members of our airline ‘ohana volunteered 6,506 hours to Hawai‘i-based organizations through our Team Kōkua employee giving program. They distributed boxes of donated foods and household goods, packed and delivered meals to kupuna (elderly), refreshed public schools and painted vibrant campus murals. In addition to sweat equity, Team Kōkua organized the equivalent of approximately $144,500 in employee-sponsored donations, ranging from travel and HawaiianMiles to cash contributions benefiting hundreds of nonprofits throughout the state.
We are grateful for the generosity of our loyalty members who gave 10.3 million miles through the HawaiianMiles charity program, including 1.3 million miles raised during our special Giving Tuesday promotion. We matched 8.4 million miles, resulting in a total year-end donation of 18.7 million HawaiianMiles for 14 local charities.
These are all shining examples of our company’s values in action that we will continue throughout our recovery. Join us as we recap some of our airline’s proudest accomplishments in perpetuating our role as Hawai‘i’s hometown carrier.
Answering the Call to Help Our Guests
As the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly derailed vacations, weddings, honeymoons, family reunions and other Hawai‘i travel, our Hawaiian Airlines ‘ohana came together to support tens of thousands of guests with their reservations. In March, to manage a rapid influx of guest inquiries, our information technology, customer contacts, project management and facilities teams worked around the clock to set up a supplemental contact center at our Honolulu headquarters.
Hundreds of employees from across the company – from airport operations and procurement to network planning and executive leadership – picked up the phone or reached out via our social channels to assist guests promptly. Volunteers clocked in thousands of hours each week, answering inquires, messaging guests via text and our mobile app, replying to emails and assisting with back-office processes.
Giving New Life to Our Soft Goods and Inflight Catering
As we began suspending much of our flying, our product development and in-flight teams assessed inventory of unused cabin items, including blankets, pillowcases, slippers, mattress pads and amenity kits, to find them new homes and help vulnerable members of our community.
Since March, our airline has distributed over 10,300 fleece Main Cabin blankets, 177,000 Main Cabin pillowcases, 86,400 Main Cabin amenity kits, 600 Business Class pillowcases, 23,400 Business Class slippers, 2,199 Business Class mattress pads and 16,630 Business Class and Extra Comfort amenity kits to 12 local nonprofit organizations. A donation of 290 earbuds was also made to O‘ahu students who didn’t have dependable internet access for at-home learning and relied on schools' temporary, socially distanced learning labs.
Over $472,000 worth of catering goods, ranging from new hand towels and condiments to soft drinks and packaged foods, were donated to nonprofits in Hawai‘i and throughout our U.S. mainland network.
Getting Medical Professionals Where They Need to Be
In April and May, we were honored to support Hawai‘i’s medical workers, including doctors, nurses, assistants and volunteers who boarded nearly 600 complimentary Neighbor Island flights while traveling throughout our islands to conduct testing and deliver care.
The All-Hands-On-Deck Cargo Flight for Masks
When local grassroots organization Every1ne Hawai‘i wanted to bring 1.6 million face masks to Hawai'i residents back in April, they turned to our airline to transport the shipment to Honolulu (HNL) from Shenzhen (SZX), China. Working with local organizations and vendors, the group acquired the protective gear directly from factories in China for distribution via a fleet of “mask mobiles” and a “mask marketplace” at City Mill locations. As the hometown carrier, we welcomed the humanitarian mission with open wings.
On April 18, four pilots, two mechanics and two airport operations employees boarded our charter aircraft and departed HNL for Incheon (ICN), South Korea, where the crew rested before continuing to Shenzhen. The plane made its celebrated return to HNL on Tuesday, April 21, when the face masks were loaded into Every1ne Hawai‘i vans and distributed to communities statewide.
Mālama Hawai‘i’s Public Schools
When the Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) announced the August reopening of public schools with new COVID-19 protocols, we unveiled the Kōkua Our Schools program. The initiative, which kicked off in June in partnership with City Mill and POW! WOW! Hawai‘i, drew 385 Team Kōkua volunteers who put on their face masks and rolled up their sleeves to help six campuses across O‘ahu, Maui and Kaua‘i with various maintenance jobs ahead of the fall semester.
Thus far, these projects have amounted to over 2,400 hours of labor so educators could focus on providing a safe, COVID-conscious learning environment.
Kōkua for Returning College Students
This summer, our airline provided travel assistance to thousands of college students as they prepared to return to Hawai‘i and move within the islands for the fall semester. Under a travel assistance program, students registered for fall classes at Chaminade University, Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) and the University of Hawai‘i (UH) could take advantage of discounted fares and two complimentary checked bags.
Dedicated Testing Partnerships
After the September launch of the state of Hawai‘i’s Safe Travels program, we began to establish a dedicated network of laboratory partnerships aimed at making pre-travel COVID-19 testing seamless and accessible for our guests.
Our growing testing network offers travelers taking a long-awaited Hawai‘i vacation or kama‘āina (residents) returning home convenient drive-through, walk-up and at-home COVID-19 test options. The result: our guests can bypass the state of Hawai‘i quarantine and safely enjoy the islands from the moment they arrive. To learn more about our testing partners and options, click here.
Ready, Set, Holoholo
In October, we launched the Holoholo Challenge, a virtual fitness experience that encouraged the public to holoholo (to go out) during a time of isolation and disconnection. Over 12,000 participants chose between two courses, the 50-mile Mauka-to-Makai (mountainside-to-oceanside) or 130-mile O‘ahu perimeter, to holoholo in their own time and state while practicing safe social distancing.
Collectively, participants, including 20 Special Olympics Hawai‘i athletes and coaches sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, clocked in approximately 852,700 miles (equivalent to trekking around Oʻahu more than 6,500 times) and raised over $68,000 for Special Olympics Hawai‘i.
As Hawai‘i’s hometown carrier, we recognize the responsibility we have to steward our guests as they travel to, from, and between the Hawaiian Islands. We launched our Travel Pono campaign, a community-integrated effort to remind travelers to travel pono during this new era of exploration.
What does travel pono mean? Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, director of community and cultural relations at Hawaiian Airlines, explains, “Pono, like ‘aloha’, embodies many important meanings. When we specifically say travel pono, we are asking others to travel responsibly and thoughtfully. We are ready to welcome our guests back, but we first ask for their kōkua [help] in taking the necessary steps that protect these islands and preserve its culture, natural resources and communities.”
Are you planning your visit to Hawai‘i soon? Click here to learn how you can travel pono while vacationing, visiting family or returning home.
To cap off 2020, we published our inaugural Corporate Kuleana Report outlining progress advancing a host of environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives. To read the full report, click here.
We wouldn’t be here without the support of our employees, partners and guests, and for that, we offer our sincerest mahalo.
Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year),
from our ʻohana to yours.