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This morning, Hawaiʻi’s hometown carrier officially welcomed its first Boeing 787-9, which arrived in Honolulu last week after a delivery flight from North Charleston, South Carolina.

"This day has been a long time coming – in fact, today marks almost six years to the date when we first announced our investment in the 787-9 as the new flagship fleet for our company," said Peter Ingram, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, during his welcome remarks.

"Mahalo to Boeing for working collaboratively with us as we adjusted the delivery schedule and to our entire 787-9 team for managing our project and getting our first aircraft to its new home here in Honolulu."

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Darren Hulst, vice president of commercial marketing at Boeing (second from left), pictured with Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram and flight crew.

 

Hawaiian and Boeing's leadership joined employees and local dignitaries at the Charles I. Elliott Maintenance and Cargo Facility to induct N781HA with a special welcome and blessing. Students from Windward Oʻahu’s Mālama Honua Public Charter School opened the event with an ‘oli (chant). The airline continued with remarks from special guests before the formal Hawaiian blessing of N781HA.

“From the moment you step onboard, you’ll see that the Hawaiian culture is woven into the design of this 787 Dreamliner. It immediately connects passengers to the beauty of the islands,” said Darren Hulst, vice president of commercial marketing at Boeing. “It’s an honor to know this airplane will bring Hawai’i to the world for years to come.”

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(From left to right) Darren Hulst, vice president of commercial marketing at Boeing, Kahu Laʻakea Arista, Kumu Keoni Martin, and Peter Ingram, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, during the blessing of Kapuahi.

 

Over 1,500 employees and their guests joined the festivities this morning, which included live music from Kawika Kahiapo, a Hawaiian slack-key artist and Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winner, and guided tours to experience the 787-9 for the first time. Teammates who attended relished the opportunity to be a part of another milestone in Hawaiian’s 94-year history and be among the first to step aboard N781HA.

Employee Tour
Employees line up to see Hawaiian's first Boeing 787-9 after Kapuahiʻs blessing.

 

"You can tell right away when you first step on the aircraft that a lot of thought went into it; elements of Hawaiʻi are evident in all corners of the plane," said Charlie Morris, an Airbus A330 first officer at Hawaiian Airlines who will soon transition to flying the 787-9s. "I'm extremely excited to start flying it and to get the show on the road."

A Design Story Inspired by Voyaging Ancestors

From the look and feel of its interior to its naming, nearly every element of Hawaiian’s 787-9 fleet celebrates early Polynesian navigators who sailed the Pacific by observing the stars, sun, winds, waves and wildlife. The airline worked with design consultant Teague to realize its vision of honoring Hawaiian culture and voyaging in a modern airplane.

Additionally, nods to Hawaiʻi’s natural environment are abundant, from wall panels in native wood grains to the lavatory flooring inspired by shimmering black volcanic sand, and laminates and fabrics reflecting the forms of native Hawaiian plants. Guests will also learn ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) as they locate their seat row number and reference other placards installed throughout the airplane.

The 300-seat airplane also features Hawaiian’s newest premium product, the Leihōkū (garland of stars) Suites: 34 suites that envelop guests in a tranquil space with lie-flat seating, an 18-inch in-flight entertainment screen, personal power outlets, wireless cell phone charging and direct aisle access. Set in a 1-2-1 configuration, the suites offer privacy or a shared experience with combinable double suites that allow couples to fall asleep while gazing at a starlit ceiling.

Revealing N781HA’s Name

As is customary for every aircraft in Hawaiian’s fleet, each aircraft is given a culturally significant name. In the case of the airline’s long-haul, widebody fleet, these names come from stars and constellations used in the traditions of Polynesian navigators. This morning, N781HA’s official name, Kapuahi, was unveiled during the welcoming ceremony.

Kapuahi
Kapuahi pictured outside of Hawaiianʻs Charles I. Elliott Maintenance and Cargo Facility.

 

Kapuahi is a red giant star known as Aldebaran in Western astronomy. It is the brightest star in the constellation Taurus and appears in the Pacific sky alongside Makali'i, a celestial cluster of great importance in Hawaiian storytelling, wayfinding and agriculture.

"As we journey across the Pacific and take people to and from Hawaiʻi on our planes, it is in the same spirit and tradition of Hawaiian voyaging. Our kinship with voyaging is rooted in our past, grounds us in our present and guides us toward our future. This connection is reflected in the design of our Boeing 787-9s, which further this effort to mingle with the stars and look to the constellations for direction as wayfinders often do in the canoe," explained Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, director of community and cultural relations at Hawaiian Airlines, in her remarks.

Names for Hawaiianʻs Boeing 787-9 aircraft were chosen under the guidance of three Polynesian Voyaging Society Hōkūleʻa captains: Kalā Babayan TanakaCatherine "Cat" Fuller and Shantell De Silva.

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Students from Windward Oʻahu’s Mālama Honua Public Charter School, who are learning how to sail on traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoes, provided a special opening ʻoli (chant) for the event.

 

What’s Next for Hawaiian and its Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Over the next two months, Hawaiian will conduct familiarization flights between its Hawaiʻi and North America stations. Kapuahi will debut to passengers on April 15, when it will begin operating the carrier’s nonstop, daily Honolulu-San Francisco service, and later be joined by N780HA, which is scheduled to be delivered and named next month. Together, the airplanes will operate Hawaiian's Honolulu-Los Angeles (HA3) service, starting May 14, and Honolulu-Phoenix flights, beginning May 15. 

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Hulst and Ingram during the welcoming ceremony for Hawaiianʻs first Boeing 787-9.

 

Hawaiian expects to have a total of three of its 12 787-9s by the end of the year.

The long-awaited arrival of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners adds to recent milestones for Hawaiian, which include becoming the world’s first major carrier to deploy Starlink Wi-Fi, preparing to combine with Alaska Airlines and celebrating its 95th anniversary in November.

Ingram added, "Ultimately, the 787-9 is more than just a new aircraft. It represents an exciting growth phase for our company as we build on our 95 years of service and connect more people with aloha. I am excited for you to be among the first to see it, and even more excited for our employees to see it for the first time along with their ‘ohana. They have waited a long time for this special day."

  • For a gallery of images from todayʻs event, click here
  • To view and download b-roll, click here.
  • For a gallery of general Boeing 787 images, click here.

Want to try out Hawaiian’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner? Tickets are available at www.HawaiianAirlines.com.